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By-election and violent democracy

By election on two national and two provincial seats were held on Friday and ended up with utmost violence, accusations of rigging, tempering the results and charges of abuse of power by the ruling party PTI during the process of Election.

KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan on Saturday has removed Provincial Minister for Irrigation Liaquat Khattak for supporting winning PML-N candidate in the recent by-election in PK-63, Nowshera. Former Provincial Minister, Liaqat Khattak, is the brother of Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak, was elected from PK-64 Nowshera-IV. He has been removed from the ministry for violating party’s discipline and code of conduct. The provincial seat was secured by the PML-N’s Ikhtiyar Wali by gaining 21,122 votes, while PTI’s Mian Umar Kakakhel, was runner up with 17,023 votes. PTI termed this defeat a result of internal rift among the party’s ranks.

The polls in two seats in Punjab PP-51 Gujranwala and NA-75 Daska, Sialkot proved to be hub of violence, intimidations, use of force and huge outcry by the both major contesting political parties PTI and PML-N throughout the polling. This tussle resulted in the deaths of two innocent political workers each from both parties. Following the polls, PML-N come up with serious allegations against the ruling party, PTI. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz accused the ruling party for firing, making the poll slow, killing of two persons by PTI’s workers and steeling the bags of votes. She released several videos of alleged rigging in the NA-75 Daska by-poll and appealed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to take action against individuals involved in Sialkot by-poll rigging. PML-N Vice President demanded for repoll in whole constituency. On other hand, PTI Political leaders accused PML-N for using force, intimidations and rigging the polls, however, they couldn’t provide such evidences as their opponent did.

As per reports presiding officers of several polling stations remained missing over the night and appeared in the morning with strange excuses. PML-N is stressing to inquire about the alleged abduction/ missing of Presider officers while PTI is completely muted on it. Several TV Channel broadcasted a video footage, in which a person supposedly a Presiding officer was caught red handed by a PML-N led public crowd along with a bag of votes eluding away in the vicinity of a polling station. Furthermore, few news channels also reported that Parliamentarians from both political parties visited polling booths and some stayed inside for hours and remained involved in bullying of polling staffs.

Despite these political accusations, there are some serious questions regarding the conduct of both parties and the mechanism used by the Election Commission of Pakistan for conduct of this by-election. The absence or abduction of several presiding officers is a serious matter. In fact, ECP must initiate cases against the all missing Presiding officers, they should be investigated and if found guilty, they must be penalized appropriately.

Several Political parties were demanding that Pakistan military should not have any role in the Election Process inside the polling stations. This time, Election Commission of Pakistan did not take any help from Pakistan military and only paramilitary forces were ordered to maintain law and order on election day. Whole nation witnessed the lawlessness and huge irregularities during the polling. These incidents clearly indicate the loopholes and flaws in the election scheme of the ECP. ECP must revise its election protocols and initiate corrective reforms to ensure transparency and credibility on itself and election process of the country.

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