PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz said on Sunday that the incumbent government had been fully exposed after its alleged “plan of rigging” the NA-75 (Daska) by-polls was unsuccessful.
Maryam was speaking to the media in Jati Umra in Lahore before setting out to visit Daska to show her gratitude to the people for “how they gave respect to the vote […] and gave patrol [for security of the vote] to the last moment”.
“The plan of rigging they made using the administration and the police,” she said, had “failed badly” despite its implementation and the use of the “worst state terrorism” to enforce it. “This is a glaring thing that they used every tactic [available] and are now out in the open and stand exposed […] they should now know their standing in the eyes of the people.”
The NA-75 by-polls were marred by violence on Friday, with clashes between voters and police in multiple places, including polling stations and a police station at several times during the day. PML-N leaders and supporters accused authorities of preventing voters from casting their ballots. At least two people were killed and three others injured in a firing incident at a polling station. One of the victims was reportedly a member of the ruling PTI while the other belonged to the PML-N.
In a statement on Saturday, the Election Commission of Pakistan said that it suspected results of 20 polling stations had been falsified in the by-election for the NA-75 constituency as the PML-N alleged massive rigging. The commission said results of the NA-75 constituency were received with “unnecessary delay”, adding that it tried to contact the presiding officers several times but with no success.
“They took lives and abducted ECP staff; 20 presiding officers were made missing persons,” said Maryam as she blasted the government for the incidents that happened during the by-polls. She questioned why out of the 361 polling stations, the staff of only 20 polling stations had to go missing during the “fog” and why were the results of these polling stations suddenly changed when the officers returned after 12 hours.
“What bigger evidence is there than this?”
She claimed she was also in possession of footage where a presiding officer can be seen acknowledging that unidentified men had arrived in a car and tried to pressure him to return with them with the ballot box instead of in the official ECP vehicle, which he had refused. “These evidences are coming out and they [government] has now fully come out into the open.”
‘Charge sheet’ against the government
Maryam had raised concerns over the alleged rigging and incidents of violence in a press conference on Saturday where she said the ECP’s statement on the by-polls was a “charge sheet” against the government.
“There was firing, polling was slowed, people were killed and bags of votes were stolen. The ECP was looking for you, where was the Punjab government?”
She questioned “where was the chief minister, the chief secretary, the police, the inspector general and the administration” during the violence that broke out and why they were missing in action. She had called for cases to be registered against Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and Prime Minister Imran Khan for allegedly “trying to steal votes and martyring two individuals”.
She had claimed that ECP officials were made to “vanish”. “No one knows where these officials went for 14 hours or where they were kept.
“Does someone’s phone stop working during foggy weather? That as a group [they] suddenly all vanish […] the election commission was helpless trying to find them and no one is listening to it.”
Addressing the ECP during the press conference, Maryam had said that the “whole nation was watching”. She urged the commission to reclaim its “lost respect and status” by taking action against the voting irregularities that had happened.
‘Imran Khan rejected him from everywhere’
“Despite being on one page and having support of all [the] institutions and controlling everything, the people of Pakistan have rejected him [Prime Minister Imran Khan] from everywhere.”
Maryam said the PTI lacked the ability to “take votes” and failed in issues regarding the people. However, she said, they are at the forefront when it comes to “hooliganism and rowdiness”.
“Two lives were lost just for one seat because their disrespect was happening and they wanted to take this seat,” said Maryam, adding that despite the alleged attempted rigging, the government gained nothing and “lost from Nowshera and Wazirabad” — referring to by-polls for Gujranwala PP-51 and Nowshera PK-63 which the PML-N has won, according to unofficial results.
“If I had known they would take two lives just for one seat, then the PML-N would have given them the Daska seat anyway,” she said, while lamenting the two deaths.
Maryam further alleged that MNAs and MPAs of the PTI were in the process of deserting it to “secure their political future”. She said the nation was angry with the government and the MNAs and MPAs are the first to know about this anger since they “know very well about the public pulse and public sentiment” due to politicking on the ground. They had realised, she said, that the nation had taken a decision against Prime Minister Imran Khan and he would not be able to return to power.
“I understand very soon they will be scattered […] there is no PTI and it has no future.”
‘This cant be the work of humans’
Addressing the gathering in Daska, Maryam paid tribute to the PML-N worker, identified as 21-year-old Zeeshan, who had lost his life during violence in the by-polls.
“Zeeshan, a son of Daska, a lion of PML-N, a soldier of [Mian] Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, he alone fought the case for the sanctity of the vote for all of Pakistan and paid the [ultimate] tribute of his life,” said Maryam, adding that she also extended her sympathies to the family of the PTI worker who also lost his life due to the violence.
“I want to tell them in the harshest words of the great injustice they have done but my father’s upbringing stops me, but they will have to give account of this injustice in [both] this world and the next.”
She expressed her gratitude to the people of Daska and said they had shown not only to the whole of Pakistan but also the entire world, that “no attempt of any vote chor (thief) is successful when the nation is awake, gives [its] vote and patrols the [security of the] vote.”
She also questioned the explanation given that “fog” had created the various irregularities, including the absence of presiding officers from 20 polling stations. She said even if the explanation of the fog was accepted, then what kind of fog shuts down mobile phone signals and breaks down communication.
She expressed her doubts on how voter turnout in the 20 polling stations rose to 90 per cent after the missing officers returned, when the average turnout was 35pc in the rest of the polling stations.
“Who are the genies who are seen among the fog and come and give 90pc votes, this can’t be the work of humans.
“On one hand, you say that there was a lot of fog but then where did this 90pc population come from? So it cant be the work of the people, but it surely can be the work of genies and spirits seen in the fog.”
She reiterated her request to the ECP to take action and unveil the persons complicit in the irregularities, register cases against them and arrest them. “This Constitution and the law have made the ECP the custodian of the people’s choice, the protector of the nation’s vote and its sanctity,” she added.
Maryam also called for a reelection in the constituency of Daska and said it wouldn’t be accepted unless and until the PML-N was satisfied that vote theft would be stopped and not allowed to continue.