Thursday July 18, 2024

NA-249 by-election: Bilawal, Maryam exchange barbs

Maryam Nawaz said the election had become disputed, as it was stolen, demanding the ECP stop the results of the controversial election

By Our Correspondens
May 01, 2021

LAHORE/KARACHI: A slanging match has started between the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party after the latter won the NA-249, Karachi by-election.

The PML-N Friday rejected the election results and demanded that the Election Commission should withhold the results. In her Twitter messages, PML-N Central Vice President Maryam Nawaz Sharif said the election had become disputed, as it was stolen.

She said voter turnout was barely 15-18%, while the counting process continued even after eight and a half hours. “Did fog spread in NA-249 or the staff arrived late?” she asked and demanded the Election Commission to stop the results of the controversial election.

She said the election was stolen from the PML-N with only a few hundred votes and added that even if the results were not stopped, the victory will be temporary. She said this seat will be returned to the PML-N soon and those who stole the votes of the people will soon stand in the people’s court.

“If the defeat in the election is due to the decision of the people, then we will bow our head. But every decision made by vote theft and fraud will be fought to the end,” she said in another tweet.

She also thanked the people of Karachi, especially the voters of NA-249, for voting in favor of Nawaz Sharif and PML-N. “Thank you for waking up. The thieves will soon stand in your court. Inshallah, this is our promise to you,” she stated.

Meanwhile, PML-N President and Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif also thanked the people of NA-249 and congratulated Miftah Ismail for fighting bravely. “I pay tribute to the way Miftah Ismail worked day and night,” he said, adding he was confident that the Election Commission will meet the requirements of justice and transparency.

In another tweet, he said the whole of Pakistan saw how Miftah Ismail's victory and his vote lead diminished. “We will continue to move forward with trust in Allah Almighty and with the support of public. NA-249 will continue to raise its voice to end the problems,” he said and again congratulated all the party officials, especially the Karachi team.

“Lost in Nowshera, Wazirabad, Daska, and now Karachi - PTI is no more a party worth ruling the country. IK should know more than anyone else what happens in the West in these conditions - the ruling party resigns, dissolves the parliament and goes back to people. IK pls do likewise,” tweeted Muhammad Zubair, senior leader of PML-N and official spokesman of Nawaz Sharif.

After the Bat and the Arrow failed to defeat the Lion, the election was manipulated through the box theft, said PMLN senior leader Pervaiz Rashid in a tweet. He said after being badly failed in Daska ‘operations’, they came to collect Karachi’s garbage, which has increased the stink of the already tainted clothes.

Meanwhile, PMLN senior leader Ahsan Iqbal said in 2018 elections, the PTI got 35,344, while the PMLN got 34,626 and the difference was only 718 votes. He said in the by-elections, the PPP got 16,156 votes and PMLN got 15,473 and the difference was only of 683 votes.

Ahsan Iqbal said the procedure adopted to rig the election on this seat looks same as the margin of defeat was also almost the same. He said this was the fear of Nawaz Sharif, which was speaking loudly.

“The PPP candidate who was not seen anywhere was told to give a statement on TV that he was winning. This was done after arranging rigging. There was a very low turnout but it took ten hours to count the votes. Even the blind can see that rigging has taken place,” tweeted PMLN MPA Hina Pervaiz Butt.

In a related development, Chairman Pakistan Peoples' Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari termed his party’s victory in NA-249 by-election a historic event and said the people had proved once again that they were not with the present “selected government”.

Alluding to PML-N, he said “the people of Karachi will never accept the strategy to seek votes to resign from the assembly,” said Bilawal while hinting at the strategy of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz to resign from the assemblies even after taking part in the recently held by-election.

Addressing a press conference at the Bilawal House, Karachi, Bilawal thanked the people and party workers for the victory and said by defeating the PTI candidate, the people of Karachi had sent a clear message to everyone.

“The by-election results are a sign of a new direction in Pakistan's politics, as it is now moving towards a stronger democracy,” he added. Bilawal said as a result of continuous opposition and wise strategy of the party, not only the selected regime was defeated in the first round of by-elections, but also in the Senate elections.

“It has now lost the Karachi by-elections. The PPP has proved that the one who works hard and the one who supports the poor people and fights with them, wins,” he added. He reiterated his commitment that the PPP government in Sindh would fulfill the aspirations of the people of Karachi and work hard to solve their problems despite limited resources.

He stated that some irresponsible statements had come out after the success of PPP in NA-249 by-election, but the accusers should first prove and show where the irregularity had taken place.

“Some people described the Karachi by-poll as being “Daska-II” (in reference to the recent Daska by-poll), but they failed to point out where incidents like firing, violence, disappearance of the presiding officers took place in this constituency, as happened in Daska,” he added.

Bilawal said the PMLN should think as to why its votes had fallen by more than a half in this constituency as compared to the votes secured by Shahbaz Sharif during the last general election. "If the PMLN had won in NA-249, I would have called Shahbaz Sharif and congratulated him," he added.

He regretted that the opposition did not issue a joint statement following the results, “which exposed the federal government”, as their candidate had been pushed down to sixth spot, which is “everyone’s success”.

“They are only interested in opposing the opposition. Instead of fighting Imran (Khan) and the establishment, they want to fight the PPP instead. If you want to compete with the PPP, go ahead. But then be prepared to lose.”

To a question about the case of Justice Qazi Faez Isa, the PPP chairman said now that the court had exposed the conspiracy against the judiciary through its verdict, they welcome the verdict and demand that now the president should resign.

“He (President Alvi), no longer, has the legal and moral justification to remain in office. Even the prime minister's adviser on law and accountability has no right to remain in office. Imran Khan and his entire cabinet were also involved in this conspiracy,” he said.

Speaking on the issue of (former DG FIA) Bashir Memon, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that they condemned the alleged instructions given to the former DG FIA and that this should not have happened.

“But at the same time we also view Bashir Memon with suspicion. We would like to ask what happened in the Asghar Khan case if this has happened in these cases, about which the Supreme Court had ordered to pursue them. But instead of chasing Asghar Khan case, he started chasing my laundry bill and breakfast bill. Bashir Memon should also tell us at whose request he stopped investigation in Asghar Khan case and at whose request you started chasing us. If Imran Khan had asked you to do to so, you should have resigned immediately,” he added.

Replying to a question about PDM, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that they had laid the foundation of this alliance to send packing the present selected government.

“The PPP had shown the way and laid out a complete roadmap on how to remove this illegitimate and incompetent government. But, there are some people in our alliance who do not want to oust Imran Khan and Usman Buzdar,” he said.

Talking about the water supply issue in NA-249, the PPP chairman said the provincial government wanted to solve the water problem everywhere. “A new pipeline has been laid for water supply in Baldia Town and more work is being done in this regard,” he added.

He pointed out that former federal minister for water resources Faisal Vawda had stood in the assembly and admitted that injustice was being done to Sindh in supply of its due water share. But instead of solving that problem, Faisal Vawda messed up IRSA, he said.

“The 1991 Water Apportionment Accord was unfair, but it too was still not being implemented,” he added. Responding to another question, he said the money of the people of Malir kept with the Supreme Court should be given to the provincial government so that the problems faced by the people could be solved with this money.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan rejected the election results and demanded a recount. The Pakistan People’s Party’s candidate Qadir Khan Mandokhail emerged victorious after the vote count late Thursday night with a margin of 600 votes.

PMLN’s Miftah Ismail, who came in second, remarked that the party will write to the Election Commission of Pakistan and demand a forensic audit of the polls. “It is not possible that the surveys showed that I will win and I was winning in 190 polling stations and the results showed something else,” he said. “We will ask the electoral body for a vote recount.”

“We will not accept the result until a forensic audit of 15 polling stations is conducted," said Ismail. He highlighted that the election crew was from the Sindh government but the responsibility lay with the ECP.

“What is the reason behind the delay? We need a clarification," said the PMLN candidate, adding that the number of rejected votes were also not revealed. Criticizing the Election Commission of Pakistan for “fixing the by-polls” in favour of the PPP, Amjad Afridi, PTI’s candidate from the constituency, said that the election body should adopt a new procedure that there is no need to contest elections.

“With the help of the ECP, the PPP has stolen the by-polls,” alleged Afridi, while addressing a press conference at Insaf House, Karachi. “Various independent bodies had conducted the survey about the by-polls in the constituency. In all the polls, the PTI was shown above, so how did the PPP win?” he asked. He said that PTI will go to the court against rigging.

Separately, PTI’s central leader and the leader of opposition in Sindh Assembly Haleem Adil Sheikh said that the by-polls in NA-249 were strange in nature that a party that had no voters and supporters finally emerged victorious.

“The whole leadership of PPP including their MNAs, MPAs and ministers were freely roaming in this constituency and no notice was sent to them,” he said. “But when I went to Malir to cast my vote, a case under anti-terrorism law was lodged against me.”

He said the Sindh government had carried out no development in this constituency. Proscribed TLP’s leaders Friday alleged that the by-polls were largely rigged and demanded a forensic audit.

Addressing a press conference at the Karachi Press Club, banned TLP MPA Qasim Fakhri and NA-249 by-polls Nazeer Kamalvi said that forms 45 and 47 were amended to change the results.

“We were not given Form 45 of 40 polling stations,” Fakhri said. “Delays in counting also reinforce the fear of fraud.” A forensic audit of election results should be conducted, he demanded.

They also said that the TLP’s workers were arrested and their houses were raided, but the party remained part of the democratic process. “PPP got 7,000 votes in the general election. How did it manage to bag 16,000 when the vote count ratio was very low,” he said.