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February 24, 2021

Re-polling in Sialkot’s NA-75 if polls not found transparent: ECP chief

Top Story

February 24, 2021

Ag Agencies

ISLAMABAD: Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja has said re-polling can be held in the Sialkot’s NA-75 constituency if the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) finds that the elections were not conducted in a fair way, Geo News reported.

He made the remarks while conducting a hearing on a case pertaining to the by-elections in constituency NA-75 Daska on Tuesday. During the proceedings, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) candidate Ali Asjad Malhi appeared before the five-member panel and told them he would accept the commission’s decision. PML-N’s candidate Nosheen Iftikhar also appeared before the commission, along with her counsel Barrister Salman Akram Raja. Many other leaders of the PML-N and PTI were also present.

Meanwhile, the returning officer (RO) submitted details of the alleged irregularities during the by-polls. Raja asked the RO if the administration cooperated with him, to which the RO replied in the affirmative.

The returning officer told the ECP that there are 360 polling stations in the constituency and the results of 305 polling stations were received by 2:45am. He said the registration of 337 polling stations had been completed by 3.30am, adding that attempts were made to contact presiding officers after delays in the results of 20 polling stations, but no response was received from anyone except one officer.

The RO said the polling stations were 30 to 40 kilometres apart, adding that he had received the results from three polling stations but could not register the result because of the crowd [of PML-N and PTI workers] outside.

“We received the rest of the results on WhatsApp as candidates claimed they had also received them through the messaging app. We, therefore, asked them to forward the results to us so that we could tally the data with the results of 17 polling stations,” the RO said.

Four polling station results were clear, he said. However, some fingerprints of presiding officers were missing in the results of other polling stations.

The RO spoke about the firing incident during a clash between PTI and PML-N workers, saying that the voter turnout reduced “slightly” after the shootings. But there were no shootings inside the polling station, he said.

The RO went on to say that only seven or eight presiding officers came back to give their written statements of the 20 officers who had disappeared.

During the hearing, the lawyer of PML-N played a video of the clash between PML-N and PTI supporters on polling day, which claimed two lives. The CEC has sought a complete record from PTI authorities till February 24.

Meanwhile, Information minister Shibli Faraz said Prime Minister Imran Khan has accepted the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) challenge for re-polling at 20 polling stations of NA-75, the results of which were withheld by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) pending an inquiry.

The PML-N has been urging re-election in the entire NA-75 constituency, alleging “rigging” by the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

Talking to the media here, Faraz said keeping its “tradition of changing stances”, the PML-N had backtracked from its earlier stance and was now demanding new elections in the entire constituency. The minister said the Prime Minister had always faced challenges boldly and in that particular case, the PTI was ready for re-polling.

Faraz said the ECP, an independent institution, would take the final decision about the by-election held in NA-75 Daska and the PTI would accept it.

Shibli said it was ironic that the PML-N “which was the inventor of Chhanga Manga style of politics and horse trading” in the politics was today crying foul. He said whenever the opposition parties won elections, they termed them fair and transparent but when they lost, they started crying hoarse.