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ECP accepts Miftah’s request, Orders recount in NA-249 for tomorrow

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE/KARACHI: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Tuesday accepted PMLN candidate Miftah Ismail's application ordering recount in NA-249 Karachi on May 6.

The Commission had on Saturday issued a stay order, withholding the results of NA-249, Karachi by-elections. The stay order was issued on the application of PMLN candidate Miftah Ismail, seeking recount.

The Commission directed the contestants to reach the office of returning officer (RO) at 9am on May 6 for the recount. Chaired by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, a four-member bench conducted the hearing. Miftah's counsel argued that the signatures of presiding officers (POs) of 167 polling stations were missing on Form-45, while the party's polling agents were also not given Form-46. He argued that Form-46 was just as important as Form-45 according to Justice Nasirul Mulk Commission report. He said the presiding officers were bound to provide Form-45 and Form-46 to the polling agents, whereas signatures were absent on Form-45 given by the presiding officers. The lawyer also called on the ECP to investigate irregularities in the by-poll.

He said the PML-N would submit a separate application for re-polling [in the constituency].

“Recount of votes in NA-249 is our first demand. If we are not satisfied, then we can also make further demands. Actions taken in 180 polling stations after the voting had ended were not in accordance with the law. Hence, recount is not enough and the ECP will have to intervene. Absence of verified Form-45 and Form-46 has made the entire election suspicious,” he insisted. PPP lawyer Lateef Khosa argued that the PMLN did not raise any objection to any form during the polling on April 29 adding that it was not enough to say there were irregularities.

“It needs to be identified where and what irregularities occurred. The returning officers were not bound to accept applications for recount,” he argued.

To this, the ECP Member from Punjab Altaf Ibrahim Qureshi noted that the case was against the RO's orders and not about polling stations to which Khosa replied that Miftah Ismail had submitted a general application to the RO.

“There is a tradition of not accepting defeat in our country. It seems Miftah Ismail had already prepared an application, which stated that the manner in which the results were announced was suspicious. It was the RO's job to release the results. Whether he was waiting for a stay order from the ECP?” he noted.

He contended that the PMLN objected to Form-45 at 2:30am after defeat. The ECP member from Punjab again questioned whether the PPP candidate [in the by-election] was satisfied with the RO's order.

To this, Khosa said the RO had termed the PMLN's application inappropriate and maintained that the ECP could not order recount for want of concrete reasons.

Meanwhile, the PMLN Tuesday welcomed the Election Commission’s decision and said the fraud committed in NA-249 elections will be caught in the recount.

In a message on twitter, Maryam said it should have been caught before it was committed. She said the fraud will not remain hidden for long.

“Unless the people of NA-249 get their rights back, we will not let them go. It is a question of honoring the people's vote. It is not a joke,” she tweeted.

In another tweet, she said, “Alhamdolillah, we got recount & we hope to win Insha’Allah, but even if we don’t, we will not relent and try all we can till we get our stolen votes and seat back. Will fight tooth and nail for the right of people of NA 249.”

PML-N President and Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif also welcomed the ECP’s decision.

In a tweet, he said, “Happy to learn that the PMLN's demand for a vote recount in NA-249 has been accepted. The narrow difference in votes of the top contestants necessitated this in the interest of transparency. Credibility of vote is a sure foundation of democracy.”

Muhammad Zubair, PML-N leader and official spokesperson for Nawaz Sharif, said the Election Commission had agreed to their demand for a recount in NA 249. He declared it a great news.

PMLN leader Marriyum Aurangzeb expressed hope that her party will win as a result of recount.

PML-N leader Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry tweeted, “We welcome the decision of Election Commission of Pakistan about the recount of votes in NA-249. Truth will prevail InshAllah. PMLN will win this seat.”

Meanwhile, the Pak Sarzameen Party and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Tuesday rejected the Election Commission’s decision of vote recount and filed a petition with the Commission for repolling.

Talking to the media outside the ECP office, Advocate Syed Hafeezuddin, PSP Vice Chairman, said they had submitted pieces of evidence of blatant rigging in NA-249 to the ECP and requested for repolling.

“In NA-249, the public mandate has been robbed through bullying and rigging. The country needs electoral reforms,” he said.

“We have been demanding electoral reforms for the last five years, but the political parties in the parliament are not working in this regard in order to come to power through rigging,” he said.

PTI Karachi President and MPA Khurram Sher Zaman also expressed the party’s reservations about the ECP’s decision and demanded repolling.

“PTI rejects the ECP's decision. The ECP has once again shown impartiality behind the decision. The PTI has made a clear request for repolling, he said.

“Recounting is no solution to transparent results. Recounting is once again promoting the worst rigging process,” Zaman said.