Posts tagged ‘elections’

June 30, 2011

AJK elections: Massive protest against alleged rigging

Protesters threaten to block Mangla road if re-polling is not held in two days.

MIRPUR: 

Protestors have given a two-day ultimatum to the AJK administration to ensure re-polls at certain constituencies where they allege the results were rigged.

The recent Legislative Assembly elections on the 26th were marred by disorder and blatant disregard for the sanctity of the electoral institution, as numerous media reports highlighting the rigging of results and shady procedural practices at polling stations all over AJK and Pakistan came to the fore.

While the protest at Shaheed Chowk in Mirpur lasted no more than two hours and remained peaceful, they threatened to block Mangla Road and march to Islamabad if their demand for fresh polls is not accepted within two days.

Around 4,000 protesters, mostly from the LA-2, LA-3 and LA-4 constituencies of Mirpur, led by Muslim Conference candidate Chaudhary Ashraf and Chaudhary Ruksar, the husband of independent candidate Aveena Rukhsar, were assembled at Shaheen Chowk.

Chaudhary Ashraf alleged that PPP candidate Barrister Sultan had rigged the results by switching ballot boxes. He cited the fact that the total count of the presiding officers showed him to be the winner. However, by the time the ballot boxes reached the returning officer, the vote count was against him. Chaudhary Rukhsar levelled similar allegations against PP candidates in his constituency as well, while threatening of repercussions if corrective measures were not taken. The protest had a strong democratic flavour to it with a few people identifying themselves as PP workers also coming out to protest against their own candidate and winner Barrister Sultan.

Strangely enough, the Muslim League-Nawaz and MQM were nowhere to be seen, even though both also made allegations of rigging. It would appear that a re-poll would be the natural conclusion, simply because all four parties including the Muslim Conference and even the PP have had several of their members highlight unfair practices during the polls.

The brouhaha over the AJK elections could become a point of vulnerability in Pakistan’s foreign policy with India, as the Pakistani government repeatedly accused India of rigging the elections in Indian Kashmir and called the entire process a “sham”.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 30th, 2011.

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