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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan once again Sunday reiterated his commitment to introduce electoral reforms in the country with the use of technology, saying the same would bring transparency in the electoral process and improve its credibility.

“In Karachi’s constituency NA-249, all political parties are crying foul despite low turnout. That is why the government is committed to bring electoral reforms with the use of technology,” the PM said in a statement. His statement came at a time when Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is faced with enormous criticism from political and public circles for deciding to hold the NA-249 by-election (held April 29) on a working day and that too in Ramazan amidst alarming spread of coronavirus.

In addition, serious questions have been raised regarding transparency of the by-poll due to unusual delay in the compilation and transmission of election results.

On Friday, the ECP issued official poll results on Form 47. But, after the political parties rejected these results, the electoral body decided to ‘withhold’ the results that were already declared by it.

According to the results issued by ECP on Form 47 Friday, Abdul Qadir Mandokhel from Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) bagged 16,156 votes followed by Miftah Ismail from Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) with 15,473 votes and Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan’s (TLP’s) Nazeer Ahmed with 11,125 votes. Mustafa Kamal of Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) secured 9,227 votes followed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI’s) Amjad Afridi who ended up with 8,922 votes placing him on the fifth spot in terms of the votes received. Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s (MQM-P’s) Hafiz Mursaleen got 7,511 votes.

A total of 29 candidates including 18 independents contested the by-poll.

According to ECP, out of 339,591 votes in NA-249 including 201,656 male and 137,935 female voters, the total number of votes cast was 73,471 including 50,259 male and 23,212 female voters, which is 21.64 per cent of the total registered voters in NA-249. As many as 731 votes were rejected. There are 276 polling stations in NA-29 Karachi.

The defeat in NA-249 by-poll did not go down well with PML-N that was claiming victory overnight and its workers were in celebration mode over Miftah’s presumed ‘victory’ in the by-poll held earlier on Thursday.

The PML-N claimed that elections were ‘suddenly’ rigged to favour the PPP candidate. The PML-N also announced to move court against by-poll result.

Other political parties including PTI have also alleged massive rigging in the by-election and demanded a re-poll.

Earlier on Saturday, the PM also reiterated his commitment to bring electoral reforms using technology, in a series of tweets.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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