ISLAMABAD: While the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is eagerly awaiting any credible documentary proof of alleged transfer of any number of votes from NA-122 Lahore constituency to elsewhere, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is holding an All Parties’ Conference (APC) on Thursday on its charge instead of bombarding the electoral body with concrete evidence about this ‘fraud’.
The ECP is willing to provide any kind of information to the PTI for its satisfaction about the subject that is being blown out of all proportions to gain political mileage.
The participation of any political party worth the name in the APC is unlikely considering the attitude of the PTI towards almost all key political forces. Those showing up in the conference are expected to be just paper parties, which did not even field candidates in the October 11 and previous by-elections and had received a severe drubbing in the 2013 parliamentary polls.
PTI Punjab organizer Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar, who was head of his party’s campaign in the Lahore by-polls and used his British experience of contesting elections, is not prepared to accept that Aleem Khan lost fairly and justly. He is harping on the theme that scores of votes of the PTI supporters were transferred from NA-122 to defeat his party nominee. Going by his logic, PTI’s Shoaib Siddiqui, who won the fight for the Punjab Assembly seat, PP-147 Lahore, was not ‘victim’ of this large-scale ‘transfer’ of votes.
The organizer says the complaints about shifting of their votes without the consent of the electorate are piling up. “I had a strong belief that the ECP would mend its ways under its new chief, but now I have completely lost my faith in the ECP.”
The PTI’s claims of massive quiet shifting of votes apart, it is yet to come out with even a single vote that it can show was transferred from NA-122 without a proper application of the concerned voter after August 26 this year as on this day, the ECP asserts, the voters’ lists stood ‘frozen’.
On August 26, the schedule for the local polls was announced. Under the law, no vote can be transferred from one area to another after this. When the vote shifting is allowed, it can be done only on an application of the concerned voter and the ECP can’t do it on its own.
Under the Electoral Rolls Act 1974, a person may apply for transfer of his name from the voters’ list of one electoral area to another by filing an objection to the inclusion of his name in the roll where it figures and a claim for its incorporation in the other.
After making additions, deletions, modifications or corrections, if any, in the rolls, the registration officer is required to publish the final rolls for each electoral area.According to the ECP, there were 326,028 registered voters in NA-122 in the 2013 general elections whereas during the October 11 by-poll, total registered voters in this constituency swelled to 347,762, showing increase of 21,734 electorates.
As per the laid down procedure, when a voter seeks transfer of his vote from one constituency to another by submitting an application with a copy of his computerized national identity card, his request is processed by the district election officer, who deputes an official to physically verify the facts. After finding that the request is genuine, it is sent to the provincial election office, which forwards it online to the National Database & Registration Authority (Nadra) that is connected with the ECP. When a person becomes 18 years of age, the Nadra informs the ECP and he or she is registered as the new voter. It is the ECP’s job to register voters, and the Nadra can’t do so on its own.
According to available data, a total of 25,924 people belonging to NA-122, who attained the age of 18 after May 11, 2013 elections, became voters of this area. This process was completed till August 26, 2015. Similarly, in other Lahore constituencies, 23,355 votes were added in NA-120, 28,524 in NA-123 and 26,683 in NA-124.
Only 6,797 votes were transferred into NA-122 from elsewhere between May 11, 2013 and August 26, 2015 - 6,000 votes in 2013, 17 in 2014 and 780 in 2015. Similarly, 7,750 votes were transferred out of NA-122 during this period.