Pakistan poll panel calls urgent meeting over rigging

Islamabad, May 11 (IANS) The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) admitted Saturday that it failed to hold free and fair polls in the country’s largest city of Karachi, and called an emergency meeting to discuss complaints of rigging.

The ECP statement followed a series of rigging allegations levelled by many political parties against each other in the port city, Dawn News reported.

Balloting in the city were also marred by two blasts and other incidents of violence at polling stations. At least 10 people were killed and 50 others injured in a blast near a polling station in Quaidabad area.

Even as voting time across the country was extended by an hour, the ECP gave three more hours for balloting at seven Karachi constituencies.

ECP Secretary Ishtiak Ahmad Khan said a meeting of the Commission under the chairmanship of Chief Election Commissioner justice (retd.) Fakhruddin G. Ibrahim would be held late Saturday to discuss the rigging complaints in Karachi.

He said the Commission would bring out the true picture before the nation about the happenings in Karachi, Radio Pakistan reported.

However, Khan said the Commission fulfilled its responsibility of holding elections in a “fair and transparent manner” and that voter turnout was good.

Polling remained peaceful with the exception of snatching of ballot boxes at two places in Punjab province.

Punjab officials have been asked to recover the ballot boxes and bring the culprits to book.

He said people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) also exercised their right to vote in a satisfactory manner.

There was one incident in Qila Abdullah in Balochistan, where exchange of fire took place between two groups.

The election official regretted that despite the fact that polling time was extended by one hour‚ some private TV channels started giving results.

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