Pakistan Elections Roiled by Rigging Allegations | The World Echo

Pakistan's 12th general elections, held last week, have become mired in controversy with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party alleging widespread rigging. Despite a high turnout of 60.6 million voters, the poll day was marred by a nationwide cellular service shutdown and accusations of manipulation, drawing criticism from international observers.

The PTI, led by former Prime Minister Imran Khan, claims it was robbed of victory. Party spokesperson Raoof Hasan stated they were "given only 92 seats out of 177 we were supposed to win," a discrepancy they attribute to fraudulent activities. Hasan outlined discrepancies between official forms, unusually high rejected vote counts, and alleged irregularities in specific constituencies.

Lawyer Salman Akram Raja, who contested with PTI backing, called the alleged rigging "a massive assault on democracy." He accuses officials of tampering with official forms and creating fictitious results, questioning the very legitimacy of the election.

Similar accusations resonated from other PTI candidates. Ayaz Amir described his constituency's returning officer office being sealed by police, effectively blocking oversight. Rehana Dar, mother of another PTI candidate, claimed her house was raided on political grounds.

While the PTI presents evidence and seeks legal recourse, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) denies the allegations. They maintain the elections were conducted freely and fairly, and all complaints were investigated with no evidence of widespread fraud found.

However, the concerns go beyond the PTI. Foreign and domestic observers expressed concerns about potential electoral interference, including the detention of political activists. This highlights the need for a thorough and independent investigation to address these concerns and ensure public trust in future elections.

Pakistan's democratic future hangs in the balance. Amidst accusations and denials, a transparent investigation is crucial to upholding the integrity of the electoral process and ensuring public confidence in the outcome. Whether the PTI's claims hold weight or not, the allegations must be addressed to safeguard the nation's democratic principles.

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