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Saturday March 02, 2024

PTI challenges Multan election results over form discrepancies

February 13, 2024

MULTAN: The defeated candidates of the Pakistan Tehreek Insaf have claimed discrepancies in figures in Forms 45 and 47, while the large number of invalid votes also raised doubts about the transparency of the elections.

PTI supporters during a party rally on February 7, 2024. — Facebook/Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf
PTI supporters during a party rally on February 7, 2024. — Facebook/Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf 

The PTI claims there are significant differences in vote counts in Form 45 and Form 47 of the Election Commission of Pakistan, which deprived the party of at least two more national and one Punjab Assembly seat.

Form 45 contains essential information about the polling station, including the polling station number, constituency name, total registered voters, total votes cast, and a detailed breakdown of votes received by each candidate. Candidates can independently verify their votes received through Form 45.

The presiding officers issue Form 45 to polling agents after vote counting. Form 47 contains information about the unofficial results of the electoral constituency, including the number of rejected votes and the breakdown of votes for each candidate.

The complaints surfaced in NA-148, Multan-I, where the Election Commission of Pakistan had declared the victory of former prime minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gillani, who according to Form 47, got the slot with 293 votes.

He received 67,326 votes, and an independent candidate backed by PTI, Barrister Taimur Altaf Mahay, secured 67,033 votes. Another independent candidate backed by PTI, Mehrbano Qureshi, had contested from NA-151 Multan-IV, where PPP’s candidate Syed Ali Musa Gillani was declared the winner with a 7423-vote lead against Bano.

Form 49 declared that Syed Ali Musa Gillani had received 79,082 votes, Mehrbano got 71,659 votes, and PMLN candidate Abdul Ghaffar Dogar picked up 71,659 votes. Around 16,555 votes were declared invalid in the constituency. Another independent, backed by the PTI, Zahoor Bhutta from PP-218, lodged complaints of the same nature.

Talking to journalists, Mehrbano Qureshi said Ali Musa Geelani should accept his defeat by showing political maturity and a big heart; they will not fight their case on the streets but in court. She said, “If a narrative is based on the facts, it is called a narrative. Currently, the whole world is talking about this election. It was not a clean and transparent election,” she said, adding, “Why were the results of the election withheld while the PTI was leading with force and noise?”

On this occasion, Bbarrister Taimur Mahay, an independent candidate who lost in NA-148, said that he would tell Gillani Sahib not to leave the Senate seat because his victory was not secured in NA-148, Multan-I. He said that he would guard the votes of the people.

He said that there should have been ROs by the judicial system in the election.He said: “The party is going to the courts and the election commission. They do not even want to think that they will not get justice from the courts; the high court will look into their case, and he will tell Gillani Sahib that this seat will remain hanging like this.

There is a clear difference between Form 47 provided by the ECP, which the election commission has uploaded on its website, and the data on Form 45 they have. It seems to be a clerical error.“We want the ECP to correct this error. The people should trust them and have peace at all times. We will fight for their mandate not on the streets but in the courts and be successful.”

He said ther results have been changed to favour the former prime minister of the PPP.Aanother independent candidate backed by the PTI from PP 218, Zahoor Bhutha, said that it is beyond comprehension that, unlike Form 45, they were given a result and they had won, but their results changed into a loss. He hoped that the high court would hear the case of NA 148 and that a decision would be made. It is not just a problem for their constituency; it can be a problem for the whole of Pakistan.

Meanwhile, talking to journalists, Pattan-Coalition 38 national coordinator Sarwar Bari, while releasing a preliminary report about polling, said that the most controversial and farcical general elections in Pakistan’s history concluded on Thursday last. Despite having the much-touted Election Management System (EMS) at its disposal, the Election Commission of Pakistan had failed to complete the count and release election results 24 hours after the polling closed which is in total violation of the Elections Act of 2017.

He said the denial of election symbols to the PTI had confused a significant number of voters, especially the illiterate, which likely increased the percentage of rejected or spoiled ballots in this election. Further, the suspension of internet and cellular services throughout the polling day marred the otherwise smooth polling in most districts, as it had deprived many voters of access to their polling details through the ECP’s facility, 8300. Moreover, it has negatively impacted the turnout. Remember, most pre-poll opinion polls, including ours, showed more than 80 percent of respondents saying that they would go out to vote. But the system had failed them, he said.

The Pattan-Coalition 38 has compiled findings of their exit poll and participatory election observation, he said. The Pattan-Coalition 38, one of the largest and most independent election observation groups, had conducted three opinion polls and observed the polling on February 8, 2024. On polling day, their observers and participatory voters had randomly observed more than 600 polling stations in 108 national assembly constituencies.

According to their participatory observation and exit poll, nearly 15 percent of voters could not cast their vote due to: (1) a change in polling station without being informed of the change. (2) Fragmentation of votes of family members and communities to different and/or far-flung polling areas and even constituencies.

This resulted in benefiting certain parties or candidates and damaging others. About 11 percent of the respondents to their exit poll and participatory observers said that they had faced some kind of difficulty during polling. The level playing field was not available to all candidates during the pre-poll period.

They were not satisfied with the polling process. Nearly one-fourth of the participatory observers reported that polling agents of the PTI were not present inside the polling booths, while seven percent said that someone tried to influence them to vote for a certain party. Our investigation also found vote-buying at 15 percent of the surveyed locations.