Awami National Party leaders claim that the major reason for the ruling party’s defeat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa elections was large-scale rigging in elections, and complained about it throughout the campaign.
The Awami National Party (ANP), the former ruling party of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and an ally of the PPP at the centre, suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf in general elections of 2013. In 2008 elections, it secured 38 seats of the provincial assembly while in 2013 elections it could secure only 5. See Daily Dawn of May 13, 2013: Polling results a shock for major parties in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
President of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Afrasiyab Khattak said rigging was large-scale. Party leader Ameer Haider Khan Hoti was more circumspect, accepting the results but adding that “nobody can deny pre-poll rigging that was the targeting of ANP candidates and workers.”
To confirm the ANP leader’s statement, UPI Next contacted Khattack and asked about his source of information. Khattak said, “ANP performed well in last elections but this time we came under attack by militants. Our candidates were confined to their houses and were not allowed to run election campaign.” From March 30 to May 11, 31 terror attacks were carried out in the electioneering of the ANP, killing 62 activists of the party.
Besides, he said, “we have received evidence of rigging on the polling day. We informed the ECP of these but they did not respond.
“At some polling stations returning officers, presiding officers and security personnel interfered in the polling process in a bid to help certain political parties carry the day,” said Khattak.
UPI Next in order to verify his statement approached the Secretary Chief Election Commissioner Ishtiaq Ahmed Khan. Khan, however, strongly denied the rigging charges.
“Elections were held in transparent, free and fair way. We received 450 complaints of rigging in elections and 325 of the total complaints were disposed of,” Khan said. “The people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa exercised their right to vote freely and fairly and the complaints made in this regard are false and without substance.”
Jan Achakzai, spokesman to the Chief of the second-largest political party in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F (JUI-F) Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman, also dispelled the impression that ANP was made a victim of pre-poll or poll-rigging.
“ANP’s ill-thought of and anti-poor policies brought defeat to them. It is not a security issued that caused them defeat on more than 35 seats in the provincial assembly. People decided against them far and wide in the province as the ANP could not come up to its promise of generating jobs, ensuring peace and bringing prosperity to the militancy-hit province,” he said.
However, ANP central leader Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour contradicts Achakzai statement. “ANP remained at the forefront of the anti-terrorism war over the last five years and saw around 650 activists, including elected representatives and a provincial senior minister, lose life to terrorism,” said Bilour adding the party activists continued to be under threat.
“We’ve never given in to terrorists and faced every challenge during our government with courage, and will continue doing so,” he said.
Despite reservations over Electoral Commission steps, his party admitted the verdict of the masses and would let PTI work for the welfare of the masses during next five years.
See also his interview with Daily Dawn dated 12-04-2013: ANP Complains of Candidates’ Poor Security.
In southern part of the province ANP could get only one seat i.e. PK-71 Bannu-II, in Malakand Division two seats PK-85, Swat-VI and PK-77, Bunair-I and two seats in Mardan i.e. PK-23 and PK-28 the hometown of the former Chief Minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Check the details at this link on the Election Commission’s official website: Official KPK returns.
Truth Tracker also talked to ordinary voters about this question. While not a scientific poll, we wanted to get the flavor of the street sentiment.
Murad Khan, 48, a voter in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, is running a small bakery in downtown Peshawar. Father of five and a man with limited sources, he works hard from morning till evening to make both ends meet. He voted for the secular party ANP during the 2008 general elections. Even before that in 2002, he voted for the religious conglomerate called MMA.
In 2013 elections, however, he chose to vote for the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf. Many other people like Murad in the turbulent province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, share his dilemma. With the power of vote and hope of peace they keep changing the governments but peace and stability seem to elude this militancy-hit province. “We voted for Awami National Party that as per its manifesto it would end abject poverty in the province, generate jobs for the jobless and bring peace and prosperity to the province. But they failed to deliver on that and consequently faced the consequences of their broken promises,” said Murad.
Security agencies and the provincial administration failed to protect the ANP candidates and attacks on their public meetings continued. However, the voters of the province exercised their right to vote and rejected the ANP for failing on its promises.
Based on our interviews and the data, we ruled ANP leader Khattack’s statement as half true.