LAHORE: The Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) code of conduct was not seen to be observed, by political parties, anywhere in the NA-120 Lahore-III by-elections on Sunday.
Polling camps were set up outside the polling stations in Mozang Rafa-e-Aaama Girls High School, Government Salim Model School, Cooper Road Government College for Women, Islampura Government Chishtia School, Islampura Government College for Women, Lower Mall Government Model High School, Paisa Akhbar District Government Girls High School, Ravi Road Government Girls Higher Secondary School, Bagh-e-Munshi Government Model Middle School and others.
The banners, posters and hoardings outside the polling stations were not according to specific size dimensions and the district administration and district returning officers failed to ensure code of conduct in NA-120. The use of oversized campaign banners and hoardings by Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and independent candidate Yaqoob Sheikh, was prominent in the by-polls.
The workers of all parties contesting by-polls were also seen distributing food among voters.
Canvassing by parties was seen within 100 feet of polling stations where brawls and minor clashes between the PML-N and PTI workers occurred.
At Cooper Road polling station, PTI leader Farhat Abbas complained about rigging inside the polling station and code of conduct violations by the PML-N. She complained to the army men outside the polling station and said, “The PML-N goons who are working as polling agents are changing ballot papers and casting fake votes despite the presence of army there.”
Taking note of her complaint, army men took her inside the polling station where she got satisfied after inquiring from PTI polling agents about any such malpractice. She later thanked the army for addressing her issue.
Farhat Abbas alleged that hired workers of PML-N were teasing women, and they would not be spared. “They are chanting slogans against Imran Khan and using abusive language against girls by attacking our polling camps,” she added.
The clash between PTI and PML-N workers also occurred there which was successfully averted by police and army. The PML-N workers used abusive language against PTI women and party chief Imran Khan.
At Mozang Adda polling station, PTI and PML-N workers clashed and the army had to intervene to end the ruckus. Army men on loudspeakers warned workers of both parties that strict action would be taken if they do not end clash.
PTI local leader Saima Shaukat said she had been assigned the job of monitoring polling stations by the party and had observed that rigging was taking place inside the polling station. She also alleged, “The touts of PML-N are teasing girls and using abusive language against them. Our party will not tolerate this.”
On the other hand, PML-N workers alleged that PTI local leadership was deliberately teasing them by giving interviews to TV channels just outside polling camps of the PML-N. They also accused PTI workers of using foul language against ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and other party leaders.
Aerial firing was also reported on Hall Road, which was against ECP’s code of conduct, and guards of Punjab Minister for Education Rana Mashood were reportedly carrying weapons in Bilal Gunj area.
Similarly, JI Secretary General Liaqat Baloch has also said that the ruling PML-N grossly violated the code of conduct in the by-election and the Election Commission (EC) completely failed to discharge its duties.
Addressing a press conference at Lahore Press Club, Liaqat Baloch said that the government machinery and public money were being lavishly used to ensure the victory of PML-N candidate, and even the Zakat money and funds of the Baitul Maal had also been used for the purpose.
Earlier before the by-polls, the ECP issued notices to about 50 members of Parliament, ministers and senators for violating the code of conduct. However, no punitive action was taken against any candidate.
NA-120 constitutes of 321,786 voters, out of which 56 per cent are male. According to the ECP, a total of 350,000 ballot papers were printed for the by-poll and 220 polling stations were set up to cater to these voters.