February 9, 2024
ISLAMABAD – Former prime minister Imran Khan and other prominent incarcerated political figures have cast their votes through a postal ballot from Adiala Jail, sources said on Wednesday.
Other 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.
However, Mr Khan’s wife, Bushra Bibi, was unable to partake in the voting as she was convicted and arrested after the completion of the postal voting process.
Overall, fewer than 100 prisoners of Adiala Jail were able to vote, constituting only about one per cent of the jail’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 told Dawn.
He said most criminals didn’t 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 Jan 22.
However, the jail superintendent, Asad Javed Warraich, 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.
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.
PTI’s appeal to public
Meanwhile, as the nation goes to polls today (Thursday), the PTI has appealed to the public to remember the 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 Mr 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, formerly Twitter.
“This can happen only if you (voters) ensure that you use the power of the vote to bring back PTI and free Imran Khan from the clutches of his captors. That day is here. That moment is here,” Mr Hasan added.
“Nothing should deter you from going to the polling station and using the power of your vote to change Pakistan so that it gets on course to realise the dream of its creation as was visualised by Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah,” he added. “Move out. Move on. Viva la victory.”