ISLAMABAD: A leading Pakistani opposition party demanded reelection in a National Assembly constituency on Saturday after accusing its rival political faction of rigging the contest by creating violence and decelerating the voting process.
Addressing a news conference in Lahore, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Sharif blamed the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party for manipulating the by-election for NA-75 seat for Daska, a small town in Punjab's Sialkot district, which fell vacant after a PML-N MNA Syed Iftikharul Hassan Shah died last year.
Sharif screened video clips during her media briefing, claiming that her party workers had caught a presiding officer who was allegedly carrying a bag full of ballots to benefit the ruling party.
The PML-N leader said she had "undeniable evidence" of election irregularities against PTI leaders, saying that a press release issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) earlier in the day was a "charge sheet" against the government.
The ECP said in its statement it suspected the results of 20 polling stations had been falsified in Daska after a night wrought with violence and allegations of massive rigging.
"...there is a suspicion of falsification in the results from 20 polling stations. Therefore, it is not possible to release the initial results without a complete inquiry," the statement said and added that the results of the NA-75 constituency were received with "unnecessary delay."
The ECP said it had tried to communicate with presiding officers several times on Friday night with no success.
It added that the situation in Daska seemingly resulted from the weakness of administrative departments and law enforcement agencies.
Nine candidates are in the race for the NA-75 seat, and of them, the main candidates are PML-N’s Nousheen Iftikhar Shah and PTI’s Ali Asjad Malhi. According to unofficial results quoted in local media, the PML-N managed to retain the seat.
At least two people were killed and three injured in the said constituency on Friday when clashes broke out between PML-N and PTI workers.
Both political factions blamed each other for ruining the election activity by generating violence.
Despite the ECP decision to withhold the results, some federal ministers announced victory of the PTI candidate.
"Results received by our polling agents in NA 75 Daska suggest we have won the election by over 7000 votes," the information minister, Shibli Faraz, announced on Twitter.
Pakistan's planning minister Asad Umar said the PML-N only accepted election results when it emerges victorious.