ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Ali Asjad Malhi on Wednesday described the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) recent report on the February by-poll in Daska’s NA-75 constituency ‘lopsided’ and demanded re-polling there under a new Returning Officer (RO).
Addressing a news conference here, Asjad, who was also the PTI’s candidate in the Daska’s by-poll, said the election watchdog had declared the RO ‘incompetent’ in its own report, but the re-polling was conducted in the constituency under the [supervision] of same person.
He asked the ECP as to how an ‘incompetent’ person could ensure the re-election in transparent way.
Flanked by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on CDA Ali Nawaz Awan, Asjad said the RO informed the Chief Election Commissioner at 3am through a message that his life was in danger.
But, Asjad added, when he was summoned to the ECP and the CEC asked the RO to explain the threat which he mentioned in midnight, he, at once, changed his verbal statement before the authority.
Later, the election was declared null and void and re-polling was ordered in the constituency, he added.
The PTI leader said the election watchdog in its order stated that people of the constituency did not get a chance to freely exercise their right to vote as the environment for the election was not conducive.
He said the people would be shocked to know that the vote casting on all the polling stations of the NA 75, except 19 of them, was 46 per cent.
“This is the seconding highest polling in the history of Pakistan,” he maintained.
Citing one of the ECP’s reports on percentage of vote casting in the by-elections, he said 21 per cent vote cast was at Bannu, 28 per cent in Islamabad, Attock 39 per cent, Chakwal-II 24 per cent, Gujarat 20 per cent , Faisalabad 22 per cent, Lahore 31 per cent and Karachi East-II 15 per cent.
The ECP accepted results of those elections, but declared the Daska’s by-election results unfair where the vote cast percentage was 46 per cent.
Citing example of Wazirabad where by-election was held earlier than Daska, he said vote cast percentage in his adjoining constituency was 47 per cent.
Asjad said result of that constituency was accepted by the ECP due to victory of PML-N candidate there, but in Daska, the election was declared null and void due to victory of the PTI’s candidate.
He said the Deputy Returning Officer (DRO) had not mentioned anywhere in his comprehensive report that the vote casting slowed down due to the firing in different areas.
“We are the victims [of the firing], those were our workers who got martyred, but you see the accused are at large till date and FIR in this case is yet to be lodged,” he bemoaned.
During 60 days of the election, he said the election commission did not lodge any complain with the Punjab government or any other forum.
He said it appeared during the election that the PTI’s competition was with the RO instead of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
He said prior to the by-election, the DRO visited the entire constituency and directed to remove their banners sans name of the vendors.
The banners of any party in elections did not carry the name of vendors, he added.
He said the work on those development projects that initiated during the tenure of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was brought to the halt. Such orders could not be legal as the ongoing projects could not be stopped, he added.
He said the entire administration was changed prior to the by-election, but the RO was not replaced despite his request.
Asjad urged the CEC to do justice in this case as he headed a constitutional institution.
SAPM Ali Awan said the PTI government was striving to ensure free, fair and transparent elections in the country. He urged the opposition to support the government in bringing electoral reforms in the country.