ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has sought relevant records from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) candidate regarding the NA-75 Daska by-elections besides asking other parties willing to submit any document to prove their claims, ARY News reported on Tuesday.
A five-member commission headed by the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja heard the case related to by-polls held in NA-75 and its results on February 19.
The Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) had raised reservations over the election process after the alleged disappearance of some presiding officers and stopping people in the polling stations to cast their votes.
During the hearing, PML-N counsel Salman Akram Raja said that the disappearance of the presiding officers had been used as a tactic to divert attention from vote-rigging. He said that ECP’s press release regarding the Daska by-polls was historical.
He alleged that the standard operating procedures (SOPs) of COVID-19 had been misused by stopping people to enter the polling stations for casting their votes.
Returning Officer (RO) told the ECP commission that a total of 360 polling stations had been established in the constituency and the registration of 337 polling stations had been completed till 3:30 am on the day of the election, whereas, the results of 305 polling stations were collected till 1:45 am.
CEC questioned RO, “Have you send SOS call? What was the actual situation there?”
He also questioned whether he had called in the police or not. The returning officer said that he was performing the duties of RO for the third time.
“Is this you, who had given the details of Form 45 which you have received?” asked the commission’s member Irshad Qaiser. To this, the RO replied that all details have been provided.
The PML-N lawyer said that the firing occurred during the presence of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) candidate in order to spread fear among the voters. The commission’s member said that it cannot prove that the firing occurred on the orders of a candidate. He added that it was fortunate that the candidate has also reached the scene.
ECP’s Altaf Ibrahim inquired, “Is there any FIR lodged against those who opened fire?” He questioned whether the administration did not act to control the situation.
The returning officer said that it was the duty of the concerned officers to stop people from opening fire.
PML-N candidate Nousheen Iftikhar alleged that she was stopped and threatened to be killed by police. She said that the DSP was involved in worsening the situation who had not received the telephone call. The politician said that her father had won the general elections from the seat with a margin of 40,000 votes. “How can we create such certain when our victory was certain?” said Ms Iftikhar.
The politician claimed that her brother had been arrested and she was harassed in front of her children.
Nousheen Iftikhar asked the ECP probe commission to provide justice to the voters and citizens of the constituency.
Ali Asjad Malhi told the commission that the results were being received through telephone and PML-N started quarrelling and disputing the results after getting aware of its defeat.
The PTI candidate Ali Asjad Malhi’s lawyer said that the claims of PML-N are baseless as the rival political party registered complaints to RO regarding 10 polling stations.
The results from more than 300 polling stations were received before 4:00 am. The lawyer added that PML-N had faced defeat with a margin of around 97,000 votes. He added that PML-N spotted 23 polling stations.
Irshad Qaiser said that the complaints were lodged at 3:30 pm on 23 polling stations, however, the returning officer had not received the results on time.
The PTI counsel said that they have the forms containing election results.
Ali Asjad Malhi told the commission that the results were being received through telephone and PML-N started quarrelling and disputing the results after getting aware of its defeat. He asked the commission to release the election results as he won the by-polls.
CEC remarked, “We have nothing to do with the winner or loser. If this is a matter of a few polling stations, then re-polling should be conducted. We want to know if the environment was created to stop people from casting votes.”
The chief election commissioner sought all records from the PTI candidate.
Altaf Ibrahim said, “The time is short, if you have any details, then provide it immediately, otherwise the loss will be yours. We will compare the results of both parties.”
The PTI lawyer asked for time to provide the verified copies of the election records. CEC directed the submission of the relevant records till Wednesday.
Later, the probe commission adjourned the hearing till February 25.
On February 20, Moreover, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz had released several videos of alleged rigging in the NA-75 Daska by-poll and appealed to the election commission to take against individuals involved in Sialkot by-poll “rigging”.
She had alleged massive rigging in the NA-75 by-election and demanded re-election in the Daska constituency.
It is pertinent to mention here that the ECP had seized the electoral record of by-polls in NA-75 Daska on Saturday after rigging allegations were levelled against each other in the constituency by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).