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PTI's Nationwide Protest Against Alleged Election Fraud: What is Behind It?

© AP Photo / Rahmat GulSupporters of ruling party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chant slogans during a protest in Islamabad, Pakistan, Sunday, April 3, 2022.
Supporters of ruling party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chant slogans during a protest in Islamabad, Pakistan, Sunday, April 3, 2022. - Sputnik India, 1920, 01.03.2024
On Tuesday, Pakistani ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan's PTI party called for a nationwide protest on Saturday, urging supporters to demonstrate against alleged election rigging and the withdrawal of the party's political mandate after the February 8 elections.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party secretary general and prime ministerial candidate Omar Ayub reiterated allegations of allegedly widespread election rigging during a media briefing following a meeting with PTI founder Imran Khan at the high-security Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi, where Khan is currently being held.
"On Tuesday, Imran Khan delivered a message to all of Pakistan from jail about an upcoming nationwide protest against the alleged theft of our mandate," PTI senior leader Sher Afzal Marwat told a news conference.

"I have been tasked to lead the protest in Islamabad," stated Sher Afzal Marwat, adding that "The demonstration will start from F9 Park and culminate at Press Club Islamabad with a commitment to maintain absolute peace throughout,"

However, the Election Commission of Pakistan refutes the allegations leveled against it by PTI party.

PTI's Uphill Battle: Fighting for Electoral Justice

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), among other political entities, has been actively protesting against alleged electoral irregularities. They claim that the election results were unfairly manipulated to favour their opponents. "It is the collective duty of all to safeguard the people's mandate by uniting in large numbers. Those currently holding office in Punjab and the National Assembly have not been legitimately elected. Over 90 seats in these institutions have been secured by independent candidates backed by the PTI, making it the largest faction. Though we have won in 179 constituencies, we claim that we have been deprived of about 85 seats in the counting of votes," said PTI Senior Vice President Sher Afzal Marwat in an interview with ABN News.
The protest, scheduled to take place on March 2, aims to highlight these grievances and press for the restoration of their electoral mandate, which includes the fair distribution of reserved seats for women, minorities and technocrats in the National Assembly.

The Evolution of PTI's protest strategy: From Thought to Action

The first session of the National Assembly after the general elections is scheduled to convene in Pakistan on Thursday, and the newly elected representatives are expected to attend. However, the elected representatives of the PTI are going into this session with a host of grievances and objections. They argue that their mandates have been unfairly confiscated and claim that some representatives have been imposed rather than elected.

"In the aftermath of the election, the PTI's key team was faced with a crucial decision in the midst of massive rigging and result manipulation. They debated whether to stage widespread protests across the country or to take legal action to challenge the rigging. The prevailing concern at the time was the risk associated with immediate protests without exhausting legal avenues. It was feared that certain elements might exploit the situation to incite conflict and rioting, potentially transforming the peaceful supporters of the PTI into agents of violence. This, in turn, could provide a justification for the authorities to once again launch operations and crackdowns against the party," Abdul Samad Yaqoob, PTI spokesperson and member of the party's executive committee, told Sputnik."

Furthermore, the unresolved matter of allocating reserved seats including women seats, minority seats, technocracts seat, to the party adds to the dispute, casting doubt on the legitimacy of calling the national assembly session to establish a new government. As a result, the PTI has called for a nationwide protest.

"As the largest party in the country, we have been unjustly deprived of our mandates in the midst of blatant rigging despite winning the majority of seats in the elections. Therefore, our primary objective is to put pressure on the government to restore our rightfully won seats, uphold democratic principles in the country and secure the release of all PTI workers and leaders, especially our Chairman Imran Khan. In addition, we want to mobilise and organise our PTI supporters and the masses to stand united for our cause," the spokesman added.

Meanwhile, Mr Omar Ayub announced in the media that the PTI was planning to stage protests in assemblies and courts across the country, stressing that their cause was rooted in truth.
Supporters and activists of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party take part in an election campaign rally in Lahore on January 28, 2024. - Sputnik India, 1920, 14.02.2024
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