Saturday May 18, 2024

PPP accused of harassing rivals

Arbab Lutfullah, Shafqat Shirazi say opponents are being harassed and arrested on ruling party’s orders

By Shamim Bano
October 15, 2015
The Shirazis of Thatta and the Arbabs of Tharparker have accused the ruling party in Sindh, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), of influencing, harassing and kidnapping its rival candidates ahead of the first phase of the local government elections due this month.
Speaking at a news conference at the press club on Wednesday, Arbab Lutfullah, the District Council Tharparkar candidate and nephew of former chief minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim, and Syed Shafqat Shah Shirazi of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz criticised PPP lawmakers for “indulging in unlawful activities and pre-poll rigging”.
Quoting a few examples, they said the PPP lawmakers had warned union council chairman candidate Dr Ranjeet and District Council Mithi contestant Krishin to withdraw their nomination papers or face dire consequences.
Both Ranjeet and Krishin were arrested by the SHO of the area, Deen Mohammad Khoso, who when contacted said he was helpless as he was “receiving orders from high-ups”.
Lutfullah further charged that both the candidates were brutally beaten in custody at the police station. He said he tried to contact the provincial election commission to register a complaint, but his preoccupations kept him from pursuing the matter.
The two opposition leaders said that although the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was committed to holding free and fair local government elections, no effort towards achieving that goal was visible as returning officers (ROs) were seen “offering their personal services and hospitality” to PPP leaders.
“We cannot expect fair and free elections considering the ROs’ attitude.”
They made it clear that they would not escape from the polls, and insisted that free and fair elections were possible only if they were held under the supervision of the army and Rangers.
They asked the chief justice of Pakistan, the chief election commissioner and the chief of the army staff to take notice of “illegal activities” of the PPP leaders .
They accused the PPP of violating the ECP code of conduct, claiming that ghost employees or even who without a job were being appointed as district returning officers and assistant returning officers.
The election authorities in the district were under pressure to accept the nomination forms of the ruling party’s favourite candidates without following rules, “which is a glaring example of pre-poll rigging”, said Shirazi.
He asked the authorities to ensure free and transparent LG elections or they too would be rigged like the 2013 general elections and “corruption and Jiyala culture will then rule”.
He alleged that the PPP was using the entire state machinery for pre-poll rigging with a view to getting the maximum possible number of its candidates elected unopposed. “If elections are held in a transparent and fair manner, we are confident that we will be the winning candidates.”
Lutfullah said ROs were complying with orders of deputy commissioners, who had got them appointed. He also complained that 1,005 of polling stations had been changed on orders from the PPP.
The allegations came a day after another opposition party, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, alleged that is candidates were being whisked away by law enforcement agencies and kept at undisclosed locations.