The war for votes between PML-N and PPP in Lahore’s NA-133, where a by-election is due on December 5, has gone beyond the constituency to social media, where a viral video appears to show voters being bribed by party members.
Both parties have blamed each other’s workers for the alleged move.
PML-N’s Muhammad Arif registered a complaint with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) stating that the PPP is “buying off votes in the constituency”.
Arif alleged that the PPP is taking oath from the “bought” voters and distributing Rs2,000 per person.
PML-N’s Ali Pervaiz Malik also appeared on video to speak about the matter. He said he condemns the move and hopes that PPP will take notice of such ongoings and put a stop to them immediately.
“This fake video, in which all the characters are masked, this attempt to launch a campaign (against PML-N), has been rejected by the people of Lahore,” he said.
He said in the 2018 election, Malik Pervaiz won with 90,000 votes and the “tactics” being employed by PPP come from a party who “did not even secure a tenth of the votes of PML-N’.
Meanwhile, PPP Punjab’s secretary of information, Shahzad Cheema, noted that such videos are doing the rounds on social media, saying that “the clips are being made to go viral by both parties”.
He claimed his party had not issued directives to anyone to give any entity any money.
“If this has occurred at any level, the PPP strongly condemns the act,” he said.
Cheema said that the videos are a “ploy” to ruin the election.
PPP central punjab’s general secretary, Syed Hasan Murtaza, issued a video statement accusing PML-N of according respect to the “note” (currency) instead of the “vote”.
“PML-N cannot help but engage in Chhanga Manga politics,” he was quoted as saying by PPP Punjab.
According to the statement, Murtaza said that PPP is competing against PML-N “on the basis of ideology rather than money”, and that the party “does not believe in the buying and selling of votes”.
“It is only the PPP that respects the voter and the vote,” Murtaza was further quoted as saying.
PTI senator says ‘true face of PML-N exposed’
Meanwhile, PTI Senator Ejaz Chaudhary also shared a video on Twitter, with the caption stating: “The true face of the PML-N has been exposed.”
According to Chaudhary, in the video, women voters are being paid for their votes and an oath is being obtained from them.
“This is why they are against EVMs (electronic voting machines),” he wrote.
ECP takes notice of viral video
The Election Commission of Pakistan took notice of the viral video allegedly showing voters being bribed.
The constituency’s returning officer sent a notice to the deputy commissioner of Lahore and the inspector general of police and asked them to respond by November 30.
A notice was also sent to the National Database and Registration Authority chairman and the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority chairman, both of whom have been asked to respond with the information sought by November 30.
The notices state that a viral video is doing the rounds on social media which purportedly shows money being distributed and an oath being taken.
It asks the DC Lahore and IG police to have a forensic audit of the video carried out and determine the facts, including the identity of the people in the video, and the place where the illegal activity took place.
The two officials have been asked to provide the “complete bio data” of the people seen in the video.
The IG police has also been asked to promptly arrest all the individuals involved in illegal activities.
NA-133 seat falls vacant after MNA’s death
The lower house seat from Lahore fell vacant due to the death of PML-N MNA Pervaiz Malik, who died on October 11 due to heart-related complications.
According to the Punjab election commission, there are 254 polling stations in the constituency. Out of these, 199 polling stations have been declared sensitive.
The total number of voters in NA-133 is 440,485.
The Punjab home department has approved the deployment of Rangers along with police during the NA-133 Lahore by-election,
Closed-circuit television cameras will also be installed at the polling stations.