Office bearers of political parties claim violence, intimidation against workers

Islamabad: The office-bearers of political parties have claim violence and intimidation against workers in Pakistan.

The Free and Fair Election Network FAFEN’s District Long Term Observers DLTOs conducted direct interviews of various political parties’ office bearers across the country and generated a report based on their observations, says a FAFEN’s press release.

The report, released on Wednesday, has been compiled from data gathered between February 1 and 28, 2013, from 51 districts Sind 20 districts, Punjab 18, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 7, Balochistan 4, and one each in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas FATA and the Frontier Regions FRs. FAFEN DLTOs use a standardized interview format for discussions with political party office-bearers, including three questions on violence.

DLTOs conducted a total of 3,810 interviews with the office-bearers of various political parties. In 178 4.6% instances, the office-bearers reported acts of violence and/or intimidation against party workers. On the other hand, 3,550 office-bearers 93.1% did not note incidents of violence or intimidation. Twenty respondents 0.5% did not give answers, while these responses were missing in 62 reports 1.62%.

The largest number of reports of violence and/or intimidation were from Sind 89, or 50%, followed by Punjab 60, or 33.7%, KP 16, or 8.98%, Balochistan 11, or 6.1% and FATA and FRs 1 each, or 1%.

Based on information reported by political parties around the country, FAFEN recommends that all relevant government departments, including ECP and police, should work together to enforce the laws of Pakistan, including election laws, to protect the safety and security of all political contestants and their campaign workers and supporters.

It also recommends that ECP should take the lead to coordinate with all relevant government departments, including police, to make security plans for each district and constituency in advance of General Election 2013 for the benefit of all election stakeholders.

The 178 office-bearers reporting violence and/or intimidation against their party workers belonged to 24separate political parties. Most office-bearers 28, or 15.7% of the total belonged to Muttahida Qaumi Movement MQM who claimed incidents of violence and/or intimidation against their party workers, followed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf 24, or 13.5%, and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians 14 each, or 15.7% combined. The remaining 98 responses 55% of the total were by office-bearers of other political parties including Awami National Party, Awami Tehreek, Balochistan National Party, Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam F, Pakistan Muslim League Q, Sind Taraqqi Pasand Party and others.

Among the 178 reports of violence and/or intimidation, 55 office-bearers said their workers were attacked, 94 party representatives reported acts of intimidation, and 29 political party office-bearers said their workers were stopped from campaigning.

The most responses related to acts of violence/or intimidation were from Sind 89, or 50% of the total 178, followed by Punjab 60, or 33.7%, KP 16, or 8.98%, Balochistan 11, or 6.1% and FATA and FRs 1 each, or 1%.

A third of the 178 responses of violence/intimidation were about attacks against party workers 55, or 31%; acts of intimidation against party workers 94, or 53% while 29 or 16% were about party workers being stopped from campaigning.

Office-bearers representing political parties reported physical attacks against their party workers in districts across Pakistan. A total of 55 office-bearers representing 19 separate political parties reported physical attacks: 31 in Sind, 14 in Punjab, six in KP, three in Balochistan and one in the Frontier Regions.

Nine MQM office-bearers reported attacks against their workers, followed by six Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz PMLN office-bearers, and five each of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf PTI and the Awami National Party ANP. Thirty-six office-bearers of 16 other political parties also reported attacks on their workers.

Office-bearers of at least 20 political parties reported intimidation of their party workers in different districts across the country. The exact number cannot be calculated because the names of certain parties were not recorded as part of the data gathering process.

A total of 94 office-bearers reported intimidation against their party workers: 50 in Sind, 31 in Punjab, eight in KP, four in Balochistan, and one in FATA.

Cases of intimidation against party workers were reported by 16 MQM office-bearers, followed by PTI 11 and the PPPP 8. The remaining 59 responses regarding cases of intimidation were received from 17 separate political parties across the country.

FAFEN received 29 reports from at least 19 political parties claiming that their party workers were stopped from campaigning. Fifteen political party office-bearers reported such incidents in Punjab, eight in Sind, four in Balochistan and two in KP.

Eight office-bearers of PTI reported campaign restrictions against their party workers, while two office holders each of PPPP, PMLN, PPPSB and STP also reported cases of campaign restrictions. Thirteen office-bearers of nine other political parties also claimed cases of campaign restrictions against their party workers.

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