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Thursday, February 22, 2024  
11 Shaban 1445  

Over dozen protesters arrested after demonstrations against ‘election rigging’

Police also arrest PTI-backed independent candidate on NA-119
Police detain a PTI supporter from a protest near the office of a returning officer in Lahore, on Sunday. AFP
Police detain a PTI supporter from a protest near the office of a returning officer in Lahore, on Sunday. AFP
Photos via author
Photos via author

Over a dozen protesters were arrested in Punjab on Sunday after they arrived at the venues for demonstrations against alleged rigging in the general election. The government had banned gatherings of more than five people under Section 144 of the CrPC.

They had gathered outside returning offices in Lahore and other big cities to protest against the election results, which they claimed were rigged.

The former ruling party was scheduled to protest at “central points” in different cities, however, it changed the plan after claiming that a heavy contingent was deployed after their call.

Pakistan went to polls on Feb 8 to elect new government. But the results were delayed and the Election Commission of Pakistan issued the complete provisional results on Sunday.

Although the independent candidates backed by Imran Khan-led party won majority of the seats, the PTI claims that authorities tampered with the election results. Several party leaders have approached courts against the results.

According to Khan’s sister, the PTI founder has ordered his lawyers to go out, protest outside the returning offices and recover their seats. “The ones that have been stolen,” she quoted Khan as saying in an interview with Sky News.

But the government insists the elections were both fair and successful. The interim setup even described the PTI backed independent candidates in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as proof of electoral transparency.

On Sunday, a group led by lawyer Shoaib Shaheen gathered outside the returning officer in Islamabad. Supporters of Shehryar Riaz and Samabia Tahir, candidates of NA-56 and NA-57, also protested.

Security was bolstered around district and regional offices in Punjab and the twin cities. Police used tear gas to disperse the crowd that gathered around the district election commission’s office.

The Rawalpindi police had said that Section 144 was imposed throughout Punjab and vowed to take action against the illegal assembly.

In Lahore, police arrested Shehzad Farooq, a PTI backed candidate from NA-119, and four others after they staged a protest outside the returning officer office in Lahore’s Liberty Chowk.

They resorted to baton-charge and detained several while deploying police force outside PTI founder Imran Khan’s Zaman Park residence in Lahore.

Workers of PTI also protested outside the provincial election commission in Karachi.

Apart from the PTI, the JUI-F and the JI also protested in Karachi and different cities against the election results.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s party had blocked highways at different locations to record their protest while the JI demonstrated at eight locations in Sindh’s capital.

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