ISLAMABAD: The main opposition parties – Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) – Monday rejected the results of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) elections and warned of protest rallies.
PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari joined the party sit-in against the alleged rigging in front of the deputy commissioner’s office in Gilgit city, PML-N Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal announced a march on the Chief Election Commissioner’s (CEC) office in Islamabad on Tuesday.
Talking to the media here on Monday, the PML-N secretary general said when he contacted the CEC to complain about the alleged rigging, he said he was helpless. “We reject the GB elections and the PML-N activists will march from the party’s central secretariat to the CEC office at 2pm tomorrow [Tuesday],” Ahsan announced. He said the federal ministers were blatantly violating the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) code of conduct. “Some aliens have been imposed on people in GB,” he alleged.
Ahsan claimed that billions of rupees were spent to buy votes and loyalties. Another senior party leader and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi also raised questions over the election results and violation of the election code of conduct, saying that the caretaker government in GB was used to influence the whole exercise from the very first day.
He said the rigging process started at the time of creation of an interim set-up in GB for which no consultation process was undertaken. He said elections were postponed only to get more time for rigging.
PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz also rejected the results, saying the PTI secured a few seats through methods of bullying and rigging, with the support of turncoats. “This is a matter of shame that the PTI could not secure simple majority despite using the state power, government machinery and government institutions andby forcible change of loyalties,” she said, adding that it was rather no-confidence shown by the people of GB in the PTI leadership and their policies.
Separately, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said his election had been stolen. He claimed that the PPP candidate, Jamil Ahmed, was leading by 400 votes Sunday night in the final count, but in the morning he was shown trailing by 2 votes. In his fiery speech in Gilgit, he warned of dire consequences if the rigging in election was not reversed.
He said if the seats snatched through rigging were not given to people and the PPP, the protest would go to Islamabad and he would lead that protest. “I am not going anywhere till the rights of the people were given to them,” he said.
Bilawal said the PPP candidates were pressurised to leave the party and join the PTI, but each one of them remained steadfast with the party except one. “The Election Commission supported the illegal acts of the PTI ministers. So much so that he went to Islamabad and held a press conference against the opposition, instead of stopping the ministers from illegal acts,” he added. He said even Prime Minister Imran Khan visited Gilgit.
The PPP chairman said three seats were clearly snatched from his party, but warned that no one would be allowed to do so. “The PPP will continue its protest at every place where rigging had occurred. We will not allow the puppet, selected and selectors to steal the elections,” he said.
He nominated PPP Gilgit-Baltistan leader Amjad Hussain for the chief minister’s slot. Taking to twitter, he said: “My election has been stolen. I will be joining the people of Gilgit-Baltistan in their protest shortly.”
In another tweet, he said, “GB Pe Daka Na Manzoor.” The PPP also gave a countrywide call for protest against rigging in Gilgit-Baltistan elections. PPP Secretary General Syed Nayyar Hussain Bukhari said that all organisations of the PPP would hold peaceful protest outside the press clubs on Tuesday against stealing of mandate in Gilgit-Baltistan.
“The prime minister was directly involved in the rigging in the Gilgit-Baltistan elections, while the federal ministers were continuously using the government resources in the election campaign,” he alleged.
Meanwhile, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) rejected the results of Gilgit-Baltistan elections as party chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman said history of 2018 general elections has been repeated.
The JUI-F chief said in his statement that the incompetent and selected rulers will not be allowed to digest the results of GB polls. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) will not be permitted to ruin Gilgit-Baltistan after Pakistan, he stressed.
Fazlur Rehman said selection took place in GB instead of elections and it has been decided that the matter will be highlighted in the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) meeting and a joint strategy will be devised.
Meanwhile, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz said that the people of Gilgit-Baltistan had rejected PML-N and Nawaz Sarif’s narrative and thrown it into a dustbin during the election.
Speaking here at a news conference, the minister congratulated the people and candidates of Gilgit-Baltistan on participating in the democratic process and ‘we will try to make the next election process transparent and enact legislation soon’.
He asserted that those attacking the honour of Khatam-un-Nabiyyin (SAW) were our number one enemy. In this context, he pointed out Prime Minister Imran Khan has written to the Muslim countries, as well as the United Nations on this issue.
“Apart from writing, the position the prime minister has taken and the way in which he has represented the Muslim Ummah is unprecedented in the past. No political party can disperse the protesters by force on such an issue. “We are trying to negotiate with them,” he said referring to Tehreek Labbaik protesting activists.
He explained that the Interior Ministry would soon issue a statement on how to address the public's grievances. The minister said that the opposition candidates in the GB were themselves saying that the elections were transparent. The PPP was also saying the results were wrong at first but later they admitted it but the PML-N was not digesting its defeat. He said that the people of Gilgit-Baltistan have participated in the democratic process and after observing the entire electoral process, they have recognised the results.
“This is the practice of democratically minded people. If the election had been rigged, the PTI would have won 14 to 15 seats instead of 9. Some people lose and some win, defeat and victory is part of the democratic process and the people of Gilgit-Baltistan deserve congratulations on participating in the democratic process,” he noted.
The minister said that the frontline leadership of the entire opposition had been on the nerves of the people for a month and was campaigning in Gilgit-Baltistan but the people had rejected their narrative and given a majority to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. “This is because the leadership of both the parties in the past has done nothing but verbal claims for health, education, infrastructure development in Gilgit-Baltistan and these results are a sign of their failure,” he noted.
The minister was grateful to the media for keeping an eye on the entire election process through the camera. The opposition, he contended, has always maintained that if they win the election, the election is transparent and if they lose the election, it is not transparent. In 2018, they adopted the same approach. They were calling it transparent in the 2013 elections in which they won and when we protested and talked about opening four constituencies and also recorded protests in the assemblies, its transparency came to the fore.
He said that on the contrary, they object to the 2018 elections and Maulana Fazlur Rehman calls this assembly fake but he himself goes to contest the presidential election through the same Parliament and his son himself becomes a member of Parliament and this is a reflection of his double standards.
Senator Shibli Faraz said if Maulana Fazl had a democratic mind, he would not have considered politics as a business but for the economic betterment of the people but he did not do so. Along with Nawaz Sharif and his team of corrupt ministers, those who were sponsored by these criminals also benefited in the past. He called it a matter of political exploitation.
He said that Nawaz would have to answer for the assets created by Nawaz Sharif and his family. The people think that the country's wealth should be taken into account from them and that is why they have given a mandate to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. “The people voted for us because there is rule of law and they tell us they will see you. Our only concern is the rule of law. We have adopted the behavior of the rulers of a poor country and have not adopted a lavish lifestyle like the ones that made the country poor. There is also evidence of corruption in the second and third tier leadership of the PML-N and they will have to go through the process of accountability,” he noted.
He said ‘that apart from e-voting and show of hands in the Senate elections, we are going to legislate to make the upcoming election process more transparent.