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Daska by-polls inquiry, ECP summons PTI’s Firdous and others

They have been accused of distributing Rs300,000 among 20 presiding officers.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has summoned PTI leaders Firdous Ashiq Awan, Usman Dar and four other people on August 30 in connection with the allegations of rigging in the Daska by-poll.

The four others are PTI Central Punjab President Umar Dar and businessmen Arif Soni, Asif Soni and Iqbal Soni.

According to the notice issued by the commission, the PTI leaders have been told to appear before an inquiry team.

It added that the ECP had conducted a fact-finding inquiry followed by a regular inquiry against all the “accused allegedly found involved in the corrupt practices” during the by-election.

The PTI leaders have been called for an explanation about the meeting held at the district police officer’s office on February 17 in connection with the NA-75 by-election.

They have been accused of distributing Rs300,000 among 20 presiding officers and stalling the election process.

The notice added that facts were disclosed by the witnesses and accused during the inquiry and the PTI leaders were found to be involved in the rigging.

It further read that the police were “corrupted for carrying out illegal act/orders related to the actions”.

In November 2021, two inquiry reports by the ECP had revealed that the disappearance of presiding officers during the vote count for the NA-75 Daska by-elections on February 19, 2021 was part of a “pre-planned scheme”.

“The district administration was in loop regarding happening of all undesired and illegal incidents with reference to said by-election at some level,” one of them had read.

The other report had found that election officials and government functionaries acted as “puppets in the hands of their unlawful masters”.

On February 25, 2021, the ECP had ruled that re-election be held in the entire NA-75 Daska constituency after suspicions that the results could have been falsified.

In November 2021, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, then the opposition leader, had written a letter to Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja, demanding action against the officers involved in the Daska by-election fraud.

“Violations such as the sudden disappearance of 20 presiding officers, aerial firing to terrorise voters, killing of two persons, deliberate slowing down of polling, law and order situation, are all proofs that corroborate the concerns that rigging had indeed taken place,” he had noted in the letter.

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