If candidate behind alleged bribery video wins by-election, ECP says it can disqualify them
Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has decided to take strict action against the elements involved in an alleged video in which voters can be seen allegedly receiving bribes by contesting party membersbefore Lahore's much anticipated NA-133 by-election.
The by-election is scheduled to take place on December 5 but controversy has already reared its ugly head.
The war for votes between PML-N and PPP for the by-poll had gone beyond the constituency to social media Sunday, where a viral video appeared to show voters being bribed by the contesting party members.
The ECP held a meeting Monday, chaired by the election commissioner of Punjab to review arrangements before the by-election.
The meeting was attended by the Lahore deputy commissioner, returning officer, district returning officer, and Pakistan Rangers officials.
During the meeting, the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) and other authorities concerned were directed to prepare a report on the viral video and send it to the commission immediately.
"Strict action will be taken against the elements involved [in the incident] as soon as the report is received," the meeting decided.
It was stated in the meeting that the successful candidate may be disqualified if he/she is found to be involved in the video scandal.
The meeting also decided that the Rangers personnel will patrol the constituency on the day of the election while police will be responsible for maintaining law and order in the surroundings of polling stations.
The participants of the meeting were informed that the polling material has been handed over to the returning officer.
Moreover, 21 out of 254 polling stations in the constituency were declared extremely sensitive, 199 were declared sensitive and 34 were declared normal.
Participants agreed that the number of CCTV cameras and police personnel should be increased at polling stations deemed extremely sensitive.
The ECP's Punjab spokesperson said that the election commissioner of Punjab informed the chief election commissioner of Pakistan about the decisions made at the meeting.
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 NADRA chairman and the PEMRA 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 to vote for a particular candidate.
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.
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, Geo News reported earlier this week, citing sources.
Closed-circuit television cameras will also be installed at the polling stations.