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ISLAMABAD: All the political parties, barring Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), that contested the recently held by-poll in National Assembly’s constituency NA-249 Karachi West II, boycotted the ECP’s vote recount on Thursday and challenged the transparency in the recounting process, demanding of the electoral body to meet their demands regarding the recounting.

The Provincial Election Commission in Karachi made arrangements at a college site for the vote recount of the entire NA-249 comprising of 276 polling stations. The political parties initially participated in the recounting process but boycotted it thereafter, accusing the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) of lack of transparency in the recounting.

At the ECP headquarters in Islamabad, the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) submitted petitions demanding of ECP to address N-League’s reservations regarding vote recount in NA-249.

PML-N leader Khawaja Saad Rafique along with others met Secretary ECP Dr Akhtar Nazir and presented N-League’s set of demands regarding NA-249.

Speaking to media outside ECP, Rafique said the returning officer of NA-249 refused to allow showing Form 46 to candidates. He said the RO did not allow the contestants to tally Form 45 with Form 46 nor did he allow examining counterfoils and signatures of the presiding staff.

“The recounting was held in the presence of the PPP candidate only. All other political parties did not participate in the recounting process,” he said.

He said the PML-N moved two petitions at ECP demanding of ECP to allow tallying Form 45 with 46, tallying the signatures of presiding staff and to examine counterfoils.

Speaking to media in Karachi, PML-N’s Miftah Ismail, Amjad Afridi from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Hafeezud Din from Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) and others strongly criticised the ECP and RO of NA-249 for not allowing tallying Form 45 with Form 46.

They said that votes’ bag was not sealed when it was brought at the recounting site. Moreover, they alleged that other procedures for upholding transparency were not followed by ECP.

Abdul Qadir Mandokhel from PPP said, “Form 46 has nothing to do with recounting.” He said he accepted vote recount on the directions of party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

While all other political parties accused ECP of being biased in favour of PPP, Mandokhel accused ECP of being biased against PPP.

Reacting to recounting controversy, PPP’s Saeed Ghani tweeted, “First they were creating hue and cry for recounting and now they are running away from recounting.”

Serious questions have been raised regarding transparency of the by-poll held April 29 due to unusual delay in the compilation and transmission of election results.

Last Friday, the ECP issued unofficial poll results on Form 47. According to these results, PPP’s Mandokhel bagged 16,156 votes followed by PML-N’s Miftah with 15,473 votes and TLP’s Nazeer Ahmed with 11,125 votes. Mustafa Kamal of PSP secured 9,227 votes followed by 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. The voters’ turnout was 21.64 per cent. As many as 731 votes were rejected.

The defeat in NA-249 by-poll did not go down well with PML-N that claimed success in the by-poll and its workers were in celebration mode over Miftah’s presumed ‘victory’. The PML-N alleged that elections were ‘suddenly’ rigged to favour the PPP candidate.

Other political parties including PTI also alleged massive rigging in the by-election. The PML-N moved petition in ECP for a vote recount in NA-249 that was accepted by ECP and recounting was held Thursday, only to be rejected by all political parties except PPP.

Meanwhile, ECP Thursday issued unofficial results on Form 47 of by-poll in Punjab Assembly’s constituency PP-84 Khushab.

According to the result, Muhammad Muazzam Sher of PML-N bagged 73,081 votes followed by PTI’s Ali Hussain Khan with 62,903 votes. PPP’s Ghulam Habib ended up with 235 votes only. A total of nine candidates contested the by-poll. Out of total 292,687 registered votes in PP-84, 155,089 were cast and turnout was 52.99 percent. Some 2,792 votes were rejected.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021