Pakistan politician gives up seat, saying vote was rigged in his favor

In Karachi, Pakistan, a senior politician who emerged victorious in the provincial elections last week has relinquished his seat, citing rigged voting in his favor. The February 8 national and provincial elections in Pakistan faced allegations of manipulation, particularly targeting independent candidates supported by imprisoned former Prime Minister Imran Khan. Despite accusations, the caretaker government and the country’s election commission dismissed claims, asserting the presence of laws and systems to address specific complaints.

Hafiz Naeem ur Rehman from the Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami party initially declared the winner of provincial seat 129 in Karachi with over 26,000 votes, disclosed that votes cast for Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party-backed independent candidate Saif Bari were allegedly reduced from 31,000 to 11,000 during the tabulation of votes from individual polling stations.

Imran Khan, currently incarcerated on corruption and criminal charges following a rift with the powerful military, saw his PTI party barred from contesting elections, compelling members to run as independents. Despite the military denying interference in politics, Rehman emphasized the need to respect public opinion, urging a fair outcome where the winner wins and the loser loses without any undue advantages.

In an interview with Reuters on Wednesday, Rehman stated, “I will not accept it; the winner should be given the victory.” Saif Bari was unavailable for comment, and the PTI requested time to respond. As of now, the election commission has not provided an immediate response to inquiries.