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Pakistan

February 20, 2021

ECP orders inquiry into NA-75 Sialkot by-poll results after presiding officers go 'missing'

Pakistan

Sat, Feb 20, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan has ordered an inquiry into the results of the by-election held in Sialkot's NA-75 after several presiding officers allegedly went 'missing' temporarily.

The district returning officer and returning officer have been tasked with the inquiry. Both officers had reported to the ECP that the results of 20 polling stations in the NA-75 by-election are suspected to have been rigged.

ECP issued a statement Saturday afternoon after results in the constituency were withheld earlier in the day on  PML-N's request amid a controversy surrounding 23 presiding officers who had allegedly 'gone missing'.

The ECP statement says attempts were made to contact several presiding officers, but no response was received.

ECP said the chief election commissioner tried contacting the Punjab IG, commissioner and deputy commissioner on receiving information from the district returning officer (DRO) and returning officer (RO) about the presiding officers who had 'gone missing'.

The election commissioner, however, received no response.

ECP said the Punjab chief secretary was contacted around 3am after which he gave assurances of tracing the 'missing' presiding officers and polling bags for the NA-75 results. But he later became unavailable.

The presiding officers eventually appeared with the polling bags by 6am.

ECP also directed the provincial election commissioner and joint provincial election commissioner to reach the office of the DRO and RO so that "[we] can reach the bottom of the matter and records can be completely protected".

"This matter looks like a weakness of the administration and law enforcement agencies," the ECP said.

Here is ECP's full statement on the delay in the NA-75 by-poll results