Caretaker PM dismisses rigging allegations, defends poll results delay

Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar on Monday stated that a large number of independent candidates backed by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) emerged as the largest-single political group in the “free and fair” elections to the national and provincial assemblies.

In a presser at the PM’s House, Kakar said that there might have been shortcomings or other minor issues, but, by and large, the elections were held in a manner in which the entire nation and the law enforcement agencies deserved kudos despite various security challenges.

About the allegations of rigging, Kakar affirmed that these were generated through social media which were based upon misconceptions and were contrary to the ground realities. He insisted that the election results were an indication of transparency and non-interference by any quarters, adding that throughout the democratic history of Pakistan, people had always questioned the electoral process.

The caretaker premier observed that the loyalists of jailed PTI leaders emerged as returned candidates in the general elections, but no one was appreciating that aspect of the neutrality of the caretaker government. “Where the PTI has public support, it got that and they have results they never dreamt of during 2018.”

Kakar also insisted that the caretakers had provided level-playing field to all political parties during the currently concluded polls.

The prime minister, to a question, said that despite various threats prior to the Feb 8 polling day and two terrorist attacks in Balochistan province, all the stakeholders deserved appreciation over what he called a “big achievement” for peaceful conduct the elections.

Kakar also brushed aside any threats to the integrity of the country due to the protests and agitations held by certain parties by saying, “it is absurd to relate the situation with [the fall of] Dhaka during 1971.

“These are mere rhetoric,” the PM asserted, saying, “Pakistan is a very stable and responsible country. Holding of peaceful protest is the democratic right of the people. No government could allow the situation leading to chaos or anarchy.”

Responding to a query, Kakar maintained that over 60 million voters exercised their constitutional right and elected their favorite candidates under “a pressure-free environment”.

Asked about the delay in the announcement of official results, the caretaker PM said that this delay was caused due to the specific procedures regarding the compiling of results at 92,000 polling stations, adding that the official results were announced within 36 hours, while during the 2018 elections, it had taken almost 66 hours [to announce the results].

Kakar further added that there might be irregularities, but the relevant forums were available to address such grievances. “In Sweden, the similar exercise almost took 10 to 11 days, while in Indonesia, almost a month was consumed to furnish the results.”

To another question, the prime minister said that cellular services were suspended on the polling day due to security threats, as the caretaker government could not compromise on the security of people. “On the other hand, the broadband internet services were available on that day, enabling people to get connected,” he added, while dismissing the allegations that the move aimed at managing the social media.

Kakar recalled there had been other occasions throughout the year, when the cellular services had been suspended to avert security threats.

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