With General Election little more than three weeks away, doubts and rumors regarding the fairness of the electoral process are increasing. On Saturday, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif alleged that his party candidates and their families were intimidated to join ranks of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
‘PML-N’s candidates and their families are being threatened and are forced to switch loyalties. Our contestants are being forced to return tickets whereas our candidate from Multan Rana Iqbal was subjected to torture’, claimed Sharif.
Sharif went on to say that his PML-N was the only target [ahead of elections]. Sharif also urged caretaker premier Nasirul Mulk to take notice of arrest of Qamarul Islam, the PML-N’s candidate who is contesting elections against Chaudhry Nisar. Nawaz Sharif has also directed party’s top brass to register ‘strong protest’ against anti-graft watchdog as National Accountability Bureau continues to tighten noose against various politicians over alleged corruption.
On Sunday, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), expressing concern over reports of harassment and threats to election candidates in Multan and Narowal, requested the Punjab government to take ‘immediate corrective measures’. He cautioned that under the ECP’s constitutional mandate of organising and conducting elections honestly, justly and fairly under Article 218(3) of the Constitution can only be achieved in a ‘conducive law and order environment’.
Meanwhile, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal has said that NAB has nothing to do with elections. He said that NAB works only in accordance with law and it will continue to perform its duties as per its mandate. The allegations of alleged rigging before elections have been leveled just to tarnish the image and credibility of NAB, Iqbal said.
There has also been a lot of rumor mongering regarding the General Elections being held on time. Although the caretaker government and the Election Commission of Pakistan has time and again emphasized that elections will be held on time, doubts persist. The caretaker government has to do more to erase doubts in the minds of voters and political parties regarding the fairness and timely conduct of elections. Political parties should also avoid making the process controversial by making unfounded allegations.