ECP urged to stop Qureshi from interfering in by-poll

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Peoples Party has accused Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi of influencing the coming by-election for a Sindh Assembly seat in Tharparkar.

Head of the PPP Central Election Cell Taj Haider has asked the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to act against Mr Qureshi under the law.

In a letter to the chief election commissioner, Mr Haider said that the foreign minister has breached the code of conduct by interfering in the by-election in PS-52 Tharparkar.

The PPP leader said that Mr Qureshi, while being a member of the federal cabinet, addressed his spiritual followers in PS-52 by telephone on the night of March 10 (Tuesday) and urged them to vote for former chief minister of Sindh Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim.

“This indulgence by the foreign minister is a clear and blatant violation of the Code of Conduct. We wish to bring to your kind notice that Arbab Ghulam Rahim as the Chief Minister Sindh of the condemned military dictator General Pervez Musharraf had been the chief architect and implementer of record rigging for Mr Shaukat Aziz in Tharparkar when more than 200,000 votes were stamped in his favour without the candidate even visiting the NA constituency,” the letter says.

Mr Haider apprehended that the address by the foreign minister was only the start of a “fresh rigging tsunami” in the constituency, if it was not checked by the ECP in the very beginning.

As many as 13 candidates, including Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim, have submitted nomination papers to contest the by-election on April 15.

The seat fell vacant after the death of Ali Mardan Shah of the PPP.

Political analysts expect a close contest between PPP candidate Amir Ali Shah, son of late Ali Mardan Shah, and Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim, who is a candidate of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, supported by the Grand Democratic Alliance.

During the 2018 general elections, Ali Mardan Shah had secured 52,647 votes, while Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim got 32,148 votes.