Arrests as PTI stages countrywide protests against election ‘rigging’

Latif Khosa, Salman Akram Raja, Farhat Abbas among arrested n KP CM Gandapur demands judicial probe into election ‘rigging’, cipher case

SCBA demands release of Latif Khosa, Salman Raja

 

LAHORE/PESHAWAR  -  The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Sunday held protest demonstrations in the country against alleged rigging in gen­eral elections while police ar­rested PTI leaders and workers in Lahore. PTI leaders and sup­porters took to streets in various cities including Rawalpindi, Gu­jranwala, Gujrat, Vehari, Multan, Islamabad, Karachi, Hyderabad, Kandhkot, and Tank. Senior PTI leader and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ali Amin Ganda­pur called for judicial probe into alleged rigging and cipher case. 

In Lahore, a number of Paki­stan Tehreek-Insaf leaders and workers were held by police amidst protest against alleged rigging in the general elections. Among those arrested include member of National Assem­bly Latif Khosa, senior lawyer Salman Akram Raja and member of Punjab Assembly Hafiz Farhat Abbas. The PTI had called for a protest on Sunday against the al­leged rigging in the general elec­tions. Latif Khosa’s son Shehbaz Khosa confirmed the arrest of his father. Shehbaz said his fa­ther was arrested by SP Cantt from Sadr Cantt roundabout while he was on his way to The Mall. He was accompanied by party workers to stage the pro­test against rigging. Khosa’s son claimed his father’s car was in the compounded at North Can­tonment Police Station in Lahore but he was not there.

PTI leader and prominent legal expert Salman Akram Raja was also arrested by the police from Ichhra, while Advocate Muham­mad Maher, MPA Mian Haroon Akbar Salim along with other party workers were detained for staging protest. Moreover, Mehmood Hassan son of Mian Mehmoodur Rashid was also de­tained from a rally in Shadman.

During the rally organized by PTI against the alleged election rigging, the police launched a comprehensive crackdown on PTI workers. Despite the crack­down PTI workers managed to reach GPO Chowk Lahore in the form of rallies on the call of Teh­reek-e-Insaf founder against the alleged rigging. The rally was led by Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Ali Ijaz Buttar. The PTI workers dis­persed after police charged to­wards them while the law en­forcers detained more than 10 workers including Tehreek-e-In­saf MPA Hafiz Farhat Abbas. 

Farhat Abbas accused Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz of issuing arrest order for PTI leaders and workers. He blamed Punjab CM for stealing their mandate. Meanwhile, the Su­preme Court Bar Association demanded the immediate re­lease of PTI lawyers Sardar Latif Khosa, Barrister Salman Akram Raja, Mumtaz Mustafa and oth­ers who were arrested during a protest in Lahore against alleged rigging. In a press release, SCBA President Shahzad Shaukat and Secretary Syed Ali Imran termed the arrests a matter of grave concern, highlighting that all the lawyers have “always represent­ed the highest standards in the legal profession”.

The statement highlighted that the SCBA always advocated for upholding the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitu­tion. It also cited the relevant ar­ticles of the Constitution which “guarantee the right to peaceful protest and assembly”.

SCBA urged the authorities to respect the legal and democrat­ic rights of citizens including the law fraternity. “The recent trend of targeting and arresting members of the legal fraterni­ty is alarming. It reflects a bla­tant disregard for constitutional rights, rampant lawlessness and abuse of power”. The statement concluded that the SCBA has de­cided to summon an emergency meeting of its executive commit­tee to chart a course of action.

PTI also slammed government for alleged mistreatment of se­nior SC lawyer. The PTI urged the Punjab Police to immedi­ately disclose the whereabouts of detained party leader Barris­ter Raja, who was arrested while protesting against the alleged rigging. In a post on X, the PTI termed it “highly condemnable” that a senior Supreme Court lawyer was being mistreated by “PML-N’s illegal Punjab govern­ment”. Speaking at a public rally in Peshawar on Sunday, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Chief Minis­ter Ali Amin Gandapur called for setting up of a judicial commis­sion to probe the cipher case and alleged electoral irregularities in the recent general elections.

The chief minister asserted that a conspiracy had been de­vised to remove the PTI-led fed­eral government in 2022. Nota­bly, PTI founder Imran Khan was removed from the prime minis­ter’s office through a no-confi­dence motion in April 2022.

CM Gandapur urged the need for Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa to prompt­ly set up a judicial commission to investigate the cipher case. He also raised concerns about alleged electoral manipulation in the February 8 general elec­tions, stating that PTI’s victory was reflected in the Forms 45 and called for a judicial inquiry into any potential tampering of results. Furthermore, Gandapur criticized the Election Commis­sion of Pakistan’s (ECP) deci­sion of not allocating reserved seats to Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC), labeling the distribution of claimed seats for minorities and women among other politi­cal parties as illegal and uncon­stitutional. The PTI also staged nationwide protests against the alleged rigging in the February 8 general elections and the pur­ported theft of the mandate. 

The CM said he saluted to the workers who supported the righteousness. “Illegal cas­es were fabricated against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder while Asif Ali Zardari il­legally took away a vehicle from Toshakhana and had been made the President of Pakistan.

“Unfortunately, Shehabaz Sharif had been doing mon­ey-laundering and he was made the prime minister of the coun­try,” said Gandapur. He demand­ed fair trial of the PTI founder, saying cipher was conspiracy against the PTI government. He demanded that the reserved seats of PTI should be given back. “We will not surrender until we will get our right. The founder of PTI will be released and we will fight against the cor­ruption, cruelty and injustice as a team. “We will make KP an ide­al province, bringing peace and stability here,” he concluded.

In a post on X, PTI leader Khu­rrum Sher Zaman decried the “robbery” of votes by the Elec­tion Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in Feb 8 polls.

“My Form 45 shows that I re­ceived 225 votes while Mirza Ikhtiar Baig got 29 votes. But ECP on its Form-45 stole my 196 votes to 29 while gifting Mirza Baig 390 votes to 419,” he wrote in a post on X.

PTI workers in Bisham city of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Shan­gla district blocked the Kara­koram Highway to protest against alleged rigging in the February 8 general elections. Local leaders Sadeed ur Reh­man and Waqar Ahmad Khan addressed the protestors.

PTI South Punjab President Moin Riaz Qureshi and Multan President Malik Adnan Dogar were arrested during a peace­ful protest in Multan, the party said in a post on X. The PTI lead­er Mian Tariq Mehmood was ar­rested during a peaceful pro­test in Gujranwala. “Real face of Maryam Nawaz’s illegal govern­ment: leadership of PTI, in this case, Mian Tariq Mehmood from Gujranwala gets arrested just be­cause they peacefully protest,” the PTI said in a post on X.

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