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May 17, 2013

Presiding officers will be held accountable for ‘every single vote’: ECP

Sports

WD
Web Desk
May 17, 2013

ISLAMABAD: Contesting the allegations of rigging, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday said the presiding officers would be held accountable for every single ballot paper adding that the system put in place would not spare any faking.
The commission vehemently rejected a recent report by the Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen) on over 100 percent voter turnout at 49 polling stations in the May 11 general election.
The commission said the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) needed two weeks to enhance its capacity to verify thousands of thumb impressions, as it continued to receive complaints. The commission has received 110 applications (complaints) within three days.
The commission met here again to look into complaints filed by political parties and candidates, mostly calling for re-polling and recounting in their respective constituencies. Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim chaired the proceedings.
Briefing media persons here, Secretary ECP Ishtiak Ahmad Khan regretted that, on the one hand, the entire world greeted Pakistan on holding free and fair elections and the European Union and other observers also confirmed the electoral process as free and transparent barring one or two incidents of irregularities, on the other hand, some circles were talking in total contrast.
He noted that the US President Barrack Obama also congratulated Pakistan, while the British high commissioner said the elections had added to Pakistan’s dignity. “But some circles are speaking otherwise and creating doubts in the minds of all. Is it good for the system?”
The secretary said all the stake-holders played their role to ensure free and transparent election. Ishtiak maintained now was the time to move forward and as per the Constitution, after the elections within 21 days, the National Assembly and other assemblies were to meet and elect the speaker, prime minister, chief ministers and

cabinets. “Now we should focus on such things,” he emphasized.
This statement comes amid a torrent of allegations against the ECP for not doing enough to take action against those indulging in rigging and manipulation of results.
On its part, the Election Commission, he noted, has been meeting till late at night for the last three days and hadreceived 110 complaints so far. In 8-9 cases, the commission was convinced to hold recounting and within the next 3-4 days, the process of election tribunals would begin, headed by retired district and session judges, who would be bound to dispose off the cases within 120 days.
He said new systems were introduced and work was on for three-four years and the commission was not as it used to be 50 years back.
Turning to the Fafen report, the ECP secretary pointed out that the commission had changed massively and had a huge IT database. He said Fafen had been told to take the ECP views and comments prior to releasing any report, but this was not done and recently a report was issued.
However, he maintained that the goal of both the commission and Fafen was the same i.e. transparent and free elections. He said the commission not only rejected its report, but also insisted accountability would also be held in this connection.
Ishtiak pointed out the report talked about 49 polling stations, where it claimed the turnout was over 100, 200 and even 300 percent. He said even if this was to be believed, the figure was just 0.6 percent while 99.4 percent the elections were held in a transparent way.
The commission, he noted, had evolved a computerised election result management system based on 14 results and added that 11 polling stations49 polling stations Fafen had claimed to have observed and come up with over 100 per cent voter turnout.
The ECP secretary said all the results shown by Fafen were totally incorrect and not even at a single polling station the turnout was near 100 per cent.“The facts are with us. Fafen’s observers were given results on chits. We shall hold an inquiry on this and if presiding officers were found issuing chits this way, they would be held responsible; otherwise, Fafen itself should think about what to do.”
He recalled at the time of Census, Fafen was asked to be careful, as reports like the one recently released were harmful to the nation. “As the commission has reformed its system, Fafen must also do the same,” he contended.
Replying to a question, Ishtiak said there was an issue in Karachi’s NA-250 for which the commission had called PTI, MQM and chief secretary Sindh and asserted that the eyes of the commission were not shut on this issue.
Asked about the commission’s position on Imran Khan’s demand for re-counting and thumb verification, he said the commission was considering it and PTI’s Hamid Khan had been asked to share with the forum whatever proof he had on this count.
The ECP secretary said the commission would look into the matter and provide relief to the aggrieved; otherwise, the election tribunal would take the matter up. About complaints of irregularities and the security forces’ inability to check it, the ECP secretary noted that the commission had evolved a system consisting of 0.7 million personnel and security was the provincial governments’ responsibility.