Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and other political leaders who are currently incarcerated have cast their votes through a postal ballot from Adiala Jail, Pakistan-based Dawn reported, citing sources.
People in Pakistan began voting on Thursday, with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder Imran Khan and other leaders of the party, including Shah Mahmood Qureshi, currently in prison.
Other leaders who have managed to vote through mail include Pakistan’s former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, former Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi, Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid, and former information minister Fawad Chaudhry.
Imran Khan’s wife, Bushra Bibi, was unable to vote as she was convicted and arrested after the completion of postal voting process. Fewer than 100 prisoners of Adiala Jail were able to vote, which implies that about one per cent of the jail’s 7000 inmates, according to Dawn report.
The Jail administration allowed only those inmates to vote who had valid computerised national identity cards (CNICs), Dawn reported, citing sources. The reason behind the low turnout was that an overwhelming majority of the prisoners did not have the original CNIC.
Speaking to Dawn, a senior official said, “There are criminals, dacoits, thieves, convicts in the heinous crimes and under-trial prisoners (UTPs) detained in the jail.”
He said majority of criminals did not carry the CNIC to avoid their identity while the identity of the Under Trial Prisoners (UTP) were generally withheld by the police stations.
According to the official, the Adiala Jail administration received postal ballots from the Election Commission of Pakistan in mid-January and the ballots were given to the inmates.
The last date for submission was January 22. However, the jail superintendent, Asad Javed Warraich, extended the time after which the votes were given to the district returning officers (DROs) of respective constituencies in sealed envelopes.
According to a senior official, since some inmates were from far-flung regions, the exercise was carried out at least a fortnight before the polls to ensure the delivery to the DROs before the final counting. Imran Khan’s wife, Bushra Bibi also wanted to vote through a postal ballot, Dawn reported citing Jail sources. However, the authorities could not accept her request as the process had been completed by the time she was detained, Dawn reported.
Bushra Bibi’s spokesperson Mashal Yousafzai said that Imran Khan’s wife had been denied casting the vote through a postal ballot.
Meanwhile the PTI party requested people to remember the party’s incarcerated founder, Imran Khan. In a message, PTI Central Information Secretary Raoof Hasan said Imran Khan had dedicated everything, including his life, to that cause.
“As citizens of the country, we have a debt to pay. We must use our vote to change the face of Pakistan by dismantling a rotten system that has cast a vicious stranglehold on the country and its people,” he said in a post on X.
Considered one of the most popular leaders in the country, Imran Khan is incarcerated in Adiala jail on multiple charges. The cricketer-turned-politician has been disqualified from contesting the polls and has been sentenced to 10 years in the cypher case, 14 years in the Toshakhana case, and seven years in the ‘un-Islamic’ marriage case.
PTI has said that the “illegitimate and fascist” regime has blocked cell phone services across Pakistan on February 8. PTI urged the people to counter the caretaker government’s “cowardly act” by removing passwords from personal WIFI accounts.
In a post on X, PTI stated, “Pakistanis, the illegitimate, fascist regime has blocked cell phone services across Pakistan on polling day. You are all requested to counter this cowardly act by removing passwords from your personal WiFi accounts, so anyone in the vicinity can have access to internet on this extremely important day. We are all in this together & we will win together!”
Pakistan’s caretaker Interior Ministry on Thursday announced the temporary suspension of mobile services across Pakistan, Dawn reported. Citing the “deteriorating security situation,” the ministry emphasized the need to safeguard against potential security threats.
Imran Khan’s party PTI has also shared visuals of people coming out to vote in the elections. Sharing a picture of people who are standing in queue outside polling station, the PTI in a post on X stated, “In Karachi too, people came out of their homes to vote.”
In another post on X, PTI stated, “Lahore is out in massive numbers at various polling stations, waiting in long queues even before polling started!”
PTI has rejected reports about party boycotting elections. On February 7, PTI said that the “illegitimate regime” has used “every ounce of fascism, propaganda & unprecedented pre poll rigging” against PTI led by “illegally incarcenated Imran Khan.”
In a post on X, PTI stated, “Let the world know that this is the level to which the illegitimate, fascist regime has stooped to! Petrified of the massive turnout tomorrow for General Elections, the controlled media is being used to run a fake news about PTI boycotting elections, along with running a fake audio!”
The party added, “The illegitimate regime has used every ounce of fascism, propaganda & unprecedented pre poll rigging against Pakistan’s largest, most popular & only federal party PTI, led by illegally incarcerated Imran Khan. Yet, the resolve of the nation proved stronger than the oppression! The will of the people will reign supreme!”