Former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) of India, SY Quraishi
Former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) of India, SY Quraishi

Pak polls were free and fair: Ex-CEC Quraishi

ANI | Updated: Aug 01, 2018 21:02 IST

New Delhi [India], Aug 1 (ANI): Amid massive furore over alleged rigging in the recently-concluded general elections in Pakistan, former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) of India, SY Quraishi on Wednesday said that the polls were held in a free and fair manner.
In an exclusive interview to ANI, Quraishi, who was an observer for the elections in Pakistan said, "On the polling day, we saw 70 polling stations and 200 booths. Although, we received complaints in the run-up to the elections, like muzzling of media and pressuring leaders to switch parties. When we reached there, those things may have happened. But we found everything fair."
He stated that there were concerns on how the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) took note of security arrangements and the large presence of Pakistan Army inside the polling stations.
Quraishi underlined that his team was briefed by the presiding officer that the Pakistan Army would not meddle in the general elections.
Stating that there was no interference in the polling process, the former CEC said, "We found no interference. People were very happy and they felt secured. Peaceful elections were made possible because of their large presence. The elections were conducted pretty well."
He noted that there were some glitches during the counting of votes and added they were procedural and indicated lack of training by the ECP officials in terms of technology. Quraishi expressed hope that the ECP would attend to these problems in due course.
When questioned on the allegations of rigging by Pakistan's political parties and international organisations, Quraishi implied, "Don't mix political parties with international organisations because the political parties behaved on unexpected lines. If they lose, they have concerns for sure."
He continued, "I was a member of the Commonwealth delegation, and we found everything fine and also issued an interim statement complimenting the people of Pakistan and the ECP. There's nothing wrong with our findings."
Quraishi underlined that he personally met 200 polling agents in Pakistan and asked them whether they had complaints and said the latter did not have any grievances to address.
Asked on giving a clean chit to the Pakistan Army or the ISI, Quraishi replied, "We are not giving a bad or good chit. I am mentioning what we observed. Nothing more, Nothing less. The purpose of election observation missions was just to observe and report back to the EC."
Clearing the mist over the heavy deployment of army officials, in and around polling booths, Quraishi revealed that his team inquired about the same and found out that the army was deployed to combat terrorist attacks.
Notebly, prior to the elections a number of terrorist attacks took place in the Pakistan.
"They wanted security, that was the first thing. In 2013 polls, Army was deployed but they were outside polling stations. There were complaints of rigging inside polling stations particularly in Karachi. They didn't want a repeat of that experience," Quraishi said.
Summing up, Quraishi further said that the exercise went off "pretty well."
Pakistan went to polls on July 25 and the counting of votes began soon thereafter in the evening, which was marred by tedious counting and allegations of rigging by major political parties, including the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People's Party (PPP).
The opposition parties claimed that the Pakistan Army meddled in the electoral process to sway the results in favour of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan.
Soon after the results were announced, an all-party meeting was called by the PML-N to prepare a strategy over the alleged rigging of the general elections.
Chaired by PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif and Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) president Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the all-party meeting rejected the poll results and demanded a transparent re-election in the country. (ANI)