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January 15, 2015

No thumb impression verification ordered in cases against PTI


January 15, 2015

ISLAMABAD: Though majority of the 30 election petitions filed against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) winning MNAs and MPAs were about rigging charges but astonishingly no election tribunal ordered for thumb impression verification through Nadra in any single case across the country.
Election tribunals ordered Nadra to verify thumb impressions in 39 constituencies, which include 17 national assembly constituencies, 16 Sindh Assembly constituencies, 4 Balochistan assembly constituencies, one Punjab Assembly constituency and one KPK Assembly constituency.
PTI has sought thumb impression verification in some constituencies and it was revealed at a later stage that despite earlier claims verification of thumb impressions captured manually on paper on polling day was not possible from database of digitally captured thumb impressions in Nadra database and in more than 60% cases such thumb impressions are not verifiable. Thumb impressions on counterfoils could not be verified because of technical reasons and it was impossible with any of the latest technologies in 100% cases.
However, PTI termed these “unverifiable votes” as “bogus votes” and ran a national campaign to topple the government. The media repeatedly explained the whole process and highlighted that real rigging can only be proved by quoting instances on the polling day along with evidence, as computerized voting lists were used. However, a movement based on results of thumb impressions verification continued getting momentum without any rationale or sense.
The situation could have been easily clarified had any order of thumb impression verification passed in case of a constituency where PTI candidate had won. Some 30 petitions were filed against PTI winning MNAs and MPAs including 19 petitions against KPK Assembly members, 4 PTI MNAs, 5 Punjab Assembly members and 2 Sindh Assembly MPs. Majority of these petitions were on rigging charges. Three petitions were accepted against PTI, which

also included rigging charges but in no case did any tribunal order thumb impression verification despite requests. On the other hand, PTI continuously gave the impression as if the whole system was against it and that in fact tribunals were acting against it. Had a single order of thumb impression verification was passed for the constituency where PTI candidate had won, people could have easily understood the difference between unverifiable votes and bogus votes and the country could have been saved from unnecessary tension on the issue.
When The News inquired from Nadra about details of constituencies for which election tribunals ordered thumb impression verifications, the following data was provided; National Assembly: NA-20, NA-34, NA-40, NA-118, NA-128, NA-154, NA-200, NA-208, NA-202, NA-211, NA-215, NA-218, NA-229, NA-256, NA-258, NA-265, NA-267 (It includes 9 national assembly constituencies of province of Sindh). Sindh Assembly: PS-01, PS-08, PS-09, PS-14, PS-17, PS-23, PS-27, PS-29, PS-32, PS-33, PS-35, PS-59, PS-62, PS-69, PS-114, PS-128. Balochistan Assembly: PB-14, PB-41, PB-39 and PB-50. Punjab Assembly: PP-147, KPK Assembly: PK-58.
Zareen Gul of JUI-F won from Tor Ghar (PK-58). PTI candidates did not win any of the above constituencies.
In case of NA-125, the tribunal constituted one-man commission, who was a Nadra officer. This commission also carried out thumb impression verification of some of the polling stations of NA-125 on its own. Its report was not prepared by Nadra. This constituency was won by PML-N’s Khawaja Saad Rafiq who defeated PTI’s Hamid Khan. It is one of the four constituencies whose audit was demanded by PTI chief Imran Khan.
According to Faik Ali Chachar, In-charge Media & Communication Nadra, Nadra has submitted verification report of 38 constituencies with respective election tribunals and verification of NA-40 is under process whose report shall be submitted in due course of time.
Data of election tribunals and Nadra verification reports may also call attention of proposed judicial commission to probe why no order of thumb impression verification was not passed in any constituency where PTI had won. It is a crucial point and can sort out much of the confusion.

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