Khattak strikes back: Chief minister admits to irregularities in LG polls
Peshawar:Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, while addressing a news conference at his official residence, said the law and order situation escalated after candidates learnt about a shortage of ballot boxes and staff. He added other irregularities included the missing names of candidates and their election symbols.
Khattak said several meetings had been held with ECP during which the government had requested polls be conducted through a biometric system. He said National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) was ready, but the ECP took a step back.
“We also suggested during these meetings that the election should be conducted in phases,” he said. “However, our suggestions were completely ignored.”
Khattak said that it was the responsibility of the commission to conduct polls under articles 75, 218, 19 and 20 of the Constitution.
“The K-P government wrote a letter to the ECP on May 25, asking the army to step in to supervise elections as we could only deploy a single security man at one polling booth.”
He said 84,000 candidates were contesting and it was not possible to hold such large-scale elections without military assistance.
“Then we asked the ECP to call the army to supervise polls in a few areas, particularly in the southern districts, but again this suggestion was ignored,” the chief minister complained. “It was the duty of the ECP to make preparations and a plan.” He said the commission asked for the police which was provided by the government. “We ourselves are victims of rigging and our votes have been snatched,” Khattak added.
He admitted that scuffles emerged in his home district of Nowshera on polling day and ballot boxes were burnt. Khattak said authorities have called for reports from all union councils about skirmishes and untoward incidents. He vowed all information would be released and nothing would be hidden from the public.
Khattak reiterated PTI chief Imran Khan’s statement in which he said the K-P government was ready for re-polling and constitute a judicial commission if all parties reached a consensus on the matter.
About Mian Iftikhar Hussain’s arrest, Khattak said he did not ask the police to register an FIR against the ANP general secretary.
“I asked the police to take Mian Iftikhar to a safe place because a mob had surrounded his office and he was unsafe,” he said. The chief minister explained that Mian Iftikhar was a colleague and they both had worked together in the spectrum of politics. He reiterated there was no chance of him asking for the ANP leader’s name to be included in the FIR.
Jamaat-e-Islami leader and K-P Minister for Finance Muzaffar Said and Minister for Health Shahram Khan Tarakai were also present on the occasion.
Said contradicted his party’s provincial leader Professor Ibrahim who a day earlier claimed rigging was conducted under the patronage of the chief minister. However, Said was of the view that the government was not responsible for rigging or irregularities.
The chief minister also advised Professor Ibrahim to think before speaking.
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