PPP Alleges Rigging In Northern Areas Polls
24 October 2004
Lahore: With only seven seats in the Northern Areas Council, the federal government is bent on forming its government through horse-trading, and to achieve this end, it is browbeating independent members through various means to prove its majority in the 29-member council. The PPP leader and incharge of party's election campaign in the Northern Areas (NAs), Chaudhry Ghulam Abbas, made these charges while addressing a Press conference at Lahore Press Club on Sunday. He told newsmen that despite massive rigging, the government in alliance with the Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Jafria could win only seven out of the 24 seats of the council in the recently held elections. He alleged that the election results of PPP's two successful candidates, namely, Aftab Haider and Moosa Khan, were changed in recounting and they were declared unsuccessful vis-_-vis the Pakistan Muslim League candidates. In order to defeat the PPP candidates, he said, the government cancelled election results in five union councils on the plea that the ballot papers were not stamped from the backside. Quoting a previous precedent, he said in the last elections, the government accepted the votes as valid that were cast on the ballot papers without back stamping. Ghulam Abbas further alleged that the government had failed to provide ballot papers in at least nine polling stations where the PPP had majority votes. Similarly, he added, some polling stations did not get the required ballot papers, as the rest were stolen and didn't reach the polling station. The government's level of involvement in the Northern Areas elections could be judged from the fact that President Musharraf was personally monitoring the entire process, he remarked. He (President Musharraf) was also scheduled to address two public gatherings, one at Skardu and the other at Gilgit, on October 9 but could not make it owing to bad weather, Mr Abbas added. The PPP was asked to postpone its scheduled rally on the said date, he told journalists. About the alleged irregularities in the elections, Ghulam Abbas said five presiding officers had been arrested for involvement in rigging and were still in jail. Giving party position in the council, Ghulam Abbas said PML won seven, PPP got six and Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) managed to bag two seats, whereas, the remaining nine seats went to the independent candidates. Four office bearers of PPP also contested election as independent candidates and won their seats, he added. He said the numerical strength of PPP including two members of the PML (N) now stands at 12, and just two independent candidates are needed to capture the office of the deputy chief executive. The government, on the other hand, with actual strength of seven, needs seven more members to form government for which it is trying to enlist the support of independent members, who are being induced through various means, fair or unfair, he concluded.