Students Action Committee (SAC), Lahore organized a mock poll on Mall Road Lahore on February, 18th 2008, the very day elections were being conducted in the country. Keeping in view the security concerns and the sensitivity of the day, the organizers were not expecting a good response. However, they were determined at executing the idea on this day for its symbolic importance. The idea was to have a referendum on the legitimacy of Musharraf as the President of Pakistan where the voters had to be general public.
The organizers setup the polling booth near Lahore High Court (opposite GPO Lahore) by early morning. The booth was not yet setup completely that a guy in twenties who was passing by on his bike stopped and asked ‘Have you started?’. This definitely came as a surprise to the organizers. He was the first voter and soon in a matter of an hour or so around a 100 votes had been caste. Those passing by stopped and voted to show their concern.
Many of the rickshaw drivers, motor-bikers, young boys, supporters of political parties going back homeon motor cycle rickshaws after voting in general elections stopped and voted. The voters discussed their concerns with each other and with the organizers and appreciated them for this effort. A man who was driving the way to the polling booth for general elections with his family, stopped and asked the organizers ‘ Do you really need to have this referendum? It is an obvious fact, none can deny this?‘ He then voted himself and asked her wife and young kids to vote as well.
Not more than two hours had passed that police interfered as expected. ‘ Stop this ! You have five minutes and your time starts now!‘ , shouted the SHO as he came out of the police van. The organizers tried to talk to him to negotiate things but he did not allow them to stay even for 5 minutes. The booth was wrapped up as ordered and the organizers decided to move to the Lahore Press Club and setup the camp there. Later, with the support of the lawyers the negotiations were started again with the cops. The lawyers managed to get us the permission to setup our camp at the Mall road at gate of Cathedral Church (near Shell Petrol Pump opposite Salt n Pepper). The booth was thus moved to the said place soon. This venue proved to be even more prominent and the vote count increased incredibly.
It was very encouraging to note that people not just voted themselves but called up their friends and family members to reach up the place and caste their vote. It was good to see people are concerned and are ready to come out on such a sensitive day for such an activity. Lawyers and members of civil society also joined and lend their support to make the event a success. It was by 3 PM that the polling was closed. Throughout the polling none was allowed to vote more than once and no sort of rigging was tolerated to ensure fair voting.
After the polling had been closed, vote counting started. The general public gathered at the booth to witness the counting in progress. Local and International Media was also present to cover the event. Public was waiting to know the results of the referendum though it was quite obvious from the ballot boxes.
The results of the referendum were then displayed to the public.
The public announced their decision !
So, Mr. Musharraf, aap kya kehtay hain ?
It was rigged, right ?