The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Monday alleged that police in Lahore have arrested its supporters from NA-127, the constituency from which party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari is contesting the Feb. 8 general elections, and demanded the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) take action against the parties responsible.
In a letter addressed to Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja, PPP Secretary General Taj Haider claimed the Punjab police had launched this “reign of terror” to dissuade individuals desiring to support the PPP. He wrote that two former PTI workers, Shahzad and Shahbaz, had joined the PPP a day earlier and announced support for Bhutto-Zardari’s candidacy, following which they were apprehended by police. Similarly, it added, Khalida Parveen—a former PMLN councilor—was also arrested after joining the PPP.
“Our campaign in-charge, Zulfikar Ali Babar, contacted the CCPO [capital city police officer] and was told she [Khalida] had been arrested under a 4-month-old FIR against her,” wrote Haider, describing it as “surprising” that no action was taken against her during the past four months until she had joined the PPP.
“We regret to inform you that when Mr. Babar spoke to the CCPO about releasing Shahzad and Shahbaz, the officer used foul language which cannot be printed here,” the letter added. “We apprehend that such tactics will further increase if these are not stopped in time,” it said, and urged the CEC to order the release of the detained and take action as per law against the parties responsible.
Bhutto-Zardari is contesting a seat from Lahore for the first time and is facing off against the PMLN’s Attaullah Tarar and PTI-backed Malik Zaheer Abbas Khokhar.