Treasury MNAs accuse govt of rigging local council polls
By Shahzad Raza & Irfan Ghauri
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz was cornered into an embarrassing situation on Monday after several treasury members of the National Assembly accused their own government of rigging the local council elections.
“We are the victims of massive rigging. The entire nation is united against this rigging,” shouted treasury parliamentarian Riaz Hussain Pirzada on the floor of the National Assembly (NA).
Sher Akbar Khan, another treasury member, said he was the victim of pre-poll rigging by a minister of state. He did not name the minister, but sources said he was referring to Amir Muqam, the Minister of State for Water and Power. The MNA claimed that the minister suspended the electrification of his constituency to press him into withdrawing his candidates in the local council elections. “Because of the minister’s malicious intents, the PML-backed candidates lost the elections. The Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and the Awami National Party (ANP) secured first and second positions,” he said.
Dr Firdos Ashiq Awan, another treasury MNA, said she wanted to expose NA speaker Chaudhry Amir Hussain’s highhandedness against her. Speaking on a point of order, she said she would give a detailed account of the highhandedness to the house. “Include my name in the list of speakers who are to speak on this issue,” she said. I will then reveal the kind of highhandedness I suffered at your hands,” she said raising her finger towards the NA speaker. The entire opposition also grilled the government of manipulating the elections to change results in the favour of its candidates. The opposition members raised slogans and staged a token walkout from the proceedings.
Several treasury MNAs vented their feelings during the parliamentary party meeting of the ruling coalition before the NA session. They criticised the top PML leadership of protecting its own interests.
The MNAs demanded that the prime minister, who attended the meeting, explain his position and arrange their meeting with President General Pervez Musharraf to take up the issue of rigging.
Sources privy to the meting told Daily Times that the prime minister expressed his satisfaction on the ‘free, fair and transparent’ local government elections. As he concluded his speech, several members stood up and rejected his claims.
Sources said Pirzada accused that the government machinery was used to ensure the victory of selected candidates. He said the party central and provincial leadership had given a cold response to his complaints. Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, the PML president, tried to hush up the matter, but the annoyed MNAs said they would not stay quiet. They said that the PML’s top leadership had its own interests in the matter.
Farooq Leghari said his candidates were opposed by the PML’s top leadership in his constituency. According to PML sources, the Chaudhrys of Gujrat had backed Hassnain Dareshak’s candidates against Leghari’s son, Jamal Leghari, in Rajanpur district.
Khalid Lund, member of the Sherpao-led Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), said his candidates lost the elections because Arbab Ghulam Rahim, the Sindh chief minister, rigged the elections.
Daniyal Aziz, the National Reconstruction Bureau (NRB) chairman, and Maj (r) Tanvir Hussain also made similar complaints. Later, speaking on the NA floor Qazi Hussain Ahmed, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) parliamentary leader, said the nation wanted the parliament to take action against the massive rigging.
He said over 70 innocent people lost their lives while scores were injured during the elections. He said a detailed discussion must be held on the issue and the issue must not be played down in the pretext of rules and regulations. Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) acting parliamentary leader, asked the NA speaker to give the maximum time tos member who wanted to speak on the rigging issue. He said that the law and order situation had deteriorated in the country and General Pervez Musharraf had the absolute authority to impose his decisions on the nation.