May 15, 2013

PAKISTAN: Balochistan Scene: Protests Continue To Rage Against Election Results

Hazara Democratic Party activist chant slogans during a demonstration outside Quetta Press Club. (PHOTO: INP)
The Express Tribune
written by Mohammad Zafar
Wednesday May 15, 2013

QUETTA - A gaggle of protest rallies and sit-ins coupled with demands for re-elections dominated the post-election scene in Balochistan, with few candidates willing to concede their electoral losses.

Although Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) itself faces allegations of using strong-arm tactics and vote-rigging in Punjab, it was crying foul in Balochistan.

PML-N workers, led by their party’s provincial secretary general, took out a rally against the alleged tampering of results of their candidate Saher Gul Kilji from PB 2 constituency.

Marching through various streets, the workers staged a sit-in at Stewart Road. Addressing protesters, the PML-N leaders said that the election commission had given them one extra hour but voting at polling station 23 in Momanabad and polling station 37 in Naseerabad continued till late at night under the supervision of Frontier Corps and people cast their ballots illegally.

PML-N workers dispersed peacefully after registering their protest.

Balochistan National Party – Awami (BNP-A) has accused the state agencies of conspiring against the party. BNP-A leader Syed Ehsan Shah, a former provincial minister and senator for 22 years, said he was a victim of rigging and voting fraud.

In a statement, Shah said his voters were not allowed to reach the polling stations. He said that in his constituency, elections were not conducted on as many as 12 polling stations where 13,245 voters were deprived of their right to vote.

He also accused the returning officers of PB-48 of partiality and demanded of the authorities concerned to disclose the final result of the said constituency. Similarly, former federal minister Sardar Yar Muhammad Rind has said that all the former records of rigging were broken on the constituencies of NA 267 Kachhi cum Jhal Magsi and PB 30 Kachhi, adding that the election commission and local administration had a clear part to play in it.

Likewise, Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) and Muttahida Deeni Mahaz have also levelled allegations of rigging in the NA-259 constituency and have demanded a re-election.

PPP workers, led by provincial party chief Mir Sadiq Umrani, staged a demonstration in Dera Murad Jamali against alleged rigging on the provincial seat of PB-28. The town remained shut on the strike call of PPP.

The Hazara Democratic Party also staged a protest outside Quetta Press Club against the delay of results of PB-2 and alleged rigging on PB-6.

The Hazara leaders said that expectations of free, fair and transparent elections were shattered on May 11. They appealed to ECP to strike out the bogus votes and re-announce the results of the said constituencies.

The RCD Highway linking Karachi with Quetta remains shut for traffic for the past 48 hours as the political activists protesting against foul play in elections have blocked it. There was no sign that the traffic between Karachi and Quetta is restored within the next few days.

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