Pakistan’s incarcerated former Prime Minister Imran Khan voted in the ongoing general elections via postal ballot from jail, while his wife Bushra Bibi missed out.
Prominent incarcerated political leaders of Pakistan, including former Prime Minister Imran Khan, cast their votes via postal ballots from jail on Thursday, February 8 as the country’s crucial general elections are currently underway.
The former Prime Minister’s wife, Bushra Bibi however, did not vote as she was convicted and arrested after the completion of the postal voting process, Dawn News reported.
Political leaders who have managed to vote by mail included 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, the report quoted Adiala Jail sources as saying on Wednesday.
Overall, fewer than 100 prisoners of Adiala Jail were able to vote, constituting only about one per cent of the prison’s 7,000 inmates.
Sources said the jail administration allowed only those inmates to cast their votes who had valid computerised national identity cards (CNICs), and the reason for a low turnout was that an overwhelming majority of the prisoners did not have the original CNIC.
“There are criminals, dacoits, thieves, convicts in the heinous crimes and under-trial prisoners (UTPs) detained in the jail,” a senior official said.
He said most criminals did not carry the CNIC to avoid their identity, while the identity cards of the UTPs were generally withheld by the police stations.
The official said the Adiala Jail administration received postal ballots from the Election Commission in mid-January and the ballots were provided to the inmates. The last date for submission was January 22.
However, Asad Javed Warraich, the jail superintendent, extended the time after which the votes were transmitted to the district returning officers (DROs) of respective constituencies in sealed envelopes.
A senior official said that since some inmates were from far-flung areas, the exercise was completed at least a fortnight before the elections to ensure the delivery to the DROs before final counting.
Jail sources said that former first lady Bushra Bibi also wanted to cast a vote through a postal ballot, but her request could not be entertained since the process had been completed by the time she was detained.
Bushra Bibi, 49, was imprisoned at Khan’s Bani Gala residence here after an accountability court last week sentenced the couple to 14 years in jail in the Toshakhana corruption case.
Mashal Yousafzai, a spokesperson for Bushra Bibi, confirmed that the spouse of the former prime minister had been denied casting the vote through a postal ballot.
Meanwhile, as cash-strapped Pakistan goes to polls on Thursday, the PTI has appealed to the public to remember the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party’s incarcerated founding chairman, Imran Khan, who it said was fighting the battle to restore the country’s dignity, honour and sovereignty and ensure the welfare of its people.
In a message, PTI Central Information Secretary Raoof Hasan said Khan, 71, 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.
Khan’s PTI party is leading the social media campaign for its candidates contesting as independents on multiple different symbols after the Supreme Court ruling stripped off its electoral symbol, the iconic cricket bat, in a case related to intra-party elections.
Cricketer-turned-politician Khan, who has been in jail since August last year, has recently been given ten, 14 and seven years imprisonment in cipher, Toshakhana and Iddat (his third unlawful marriage) cases, respectively.
Many other PTI leaders have been languishing in various jails across Pakistan following the May 9 attacks, including on military installations, across the country following Khan’s arrest in a corruption case.
Khan and his party have alleged there is no level playing field in the ongoing election process.
The PTI leader has also blamed the powerful military establishment for preventing him from riding back to power.
The election body has stripped his party of the iconic cricket bat as the election symbol, rejected his nomination papers and those of other party leaders, at least one of his party leaders is killed during polling-related violence and the latest, a key candidate from Lahore indicted in a terrorism case.
Source: India Today
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