Key national parties cry foul as PTI marches towards victory (Lead)
Islamabad : A post-election crisis looms large over Pakistan as mainstream political parties, apart from the PTI which is celebrating its success in the general election, voiced grave concerns over "systematic manipulation in compilation and announcement of results" by the polling staff.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shahbaz Sharif rejected all results as he cited complaints of irregularities from across the country.
Sharif in a midnight presser pointed out that other political parties too had raised similar objections.
He said that official results of all constituencies in Lahore had been held up while results of far-flung town and cities in Punjab had been announced.
The Election Commission, he claimed, had stopped issuing "Form 45" to PML-N polling agents, adding that they had all been evicted from booths before the counting process was initiated.
Form 45 is known as the statement of the count, according to the poll body. It is supposed to show the number of valid votes for each contesting candidate and ballot papers excluded from the count.
"This clearly amounts to rigging. People's mandate has been defiled... This is intolerable. Election laws are being blatantly violated all over the country," Sharif said, adding that the situation had forced him to reject the outcome of the 2018 general elections.
The democratic process in the country has been pushed back by almost three decades, he said, adding that he had convened the meeting of the PML-N's Central Executive Committee to discuss the emerging situation.
"PML-N will get in touch with all political parties who faced similar treatment on the poll day in a bid to chalk out a common strategy."
Former Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb alleged that PML-N's polling agents were evicted from polling stations in areas where the party's candidates held a clear lead.
Leaders of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) also raised their voice against what they termed "forcible expulsion" of the patry's polling agents during the process of vote counting.
They also complained that their representatives had not been provided certified copies of "Form 45".
Soon afterwards, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) made same allegations. Veteran leader Raza Rabbani said that some elements were trying to make elections controversial through undemocratic means to create an atmosphere of political confrontation.
"(Resorting to) such tactics will have grave repercussions," he said, adding the poll body should take notice of such widespread complaints.
Party leader Sherry Rehman said that all but one mainstream national party was being pushed against the proverbial wall.
Meanwhile, Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, spokesperson for PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, alleged that Bilawal's chief polling agent in Lyari had gone "missing".
Even the conglomerate of religio-political parties, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), and Tehreek Labaik Pakistan (TLP) cried foul.
Chief of TLP Khadim Rizvi called the 2018 general election "the most rigged in the country's history". He said that his party was consulting within its ranks and would soon make a decision in this regard.
Similar allegations were repeated by MMA. Its leader Shamsur Rehman Swati said that the Election Commission had failed in conducting transparent elections. He said presiding officers were refusing to hand over certified results to polling agents of the alliance.