LAHORE: A commission appointed to examine polling bags and other records in NA-125, Lahore, has found several irregularities in the election, which was won by Khwaja Saad Rafiq of the PML-N.

Lawyer Hamid Khan of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, who was the runner-up in the constituency, had challenged the result before an election tribunal and sought to inspect the polling record.

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The hearing of the petition was transferred to Faisalabad after the PTI candidate showed distrust in the presiding officer of the Lahore election tribunal. The Faisalabad tribunal appointed a retired district and sessions judge, Sheikh Mohammad Tareef, as head of the commission, which submitted its report to the tribunal on Sept 29.

The petitioner’s side will carry out cross-examination on Saturday (Oct 4).

The head of the commission said in his report: “After examining each and every polling bag and minutely viewing the state of affairs carried out in this constituency, there is gross mismanagement and the polling personnel carried out the election process clumsily for reasons best known to them.

“The polling bag of each polling station shows that the process of the election carried out is the result of gross mismanagement.

“There were 265 polling stations and for each station one polling bag was assigned, but assistant returning officer (ARO) produced 253 polling bags out of that a number of them were related to provincial assembly constituency. Thereafter 179 more polling bags were produced before the commission making a total 432 polling bags.

“The available polling bags contained waste and litter having a smeary dirt and mixture of disagreeable to the sight that reflected carelessness of polling personnel.

“In fact each polling bag of entire constituency is in the condition of such a mess that it can be said to be a trash and rubbish for reasons best known to the polling personnel.”

On close examination of bags, the report said, the commission found worthless things in a heap of litter and nothing was left for inspection.

It said that the polling staff failed to record what sort of articles were received from the returning officer (RO) and which articles had been consumed on the day of election. Polling bag of each polling station did not carry the essential record. The RO had not performed his duty regarding issuance of the inventory of articles to each polling station.

The report said that in the absence of inventory record, the evaluation of the ballot papers counted by the polling officer could not be held. Since everything had been done clumsily, no record was recovered from the dirt and litter of each polling bag as the polling personnel did not perform duty properly.

“Even voter list was not found from a large number of the polling bags. And where voter list was found the ballot papers were not tallied with the number of votes.

“The record of invalid votes was not found in any polling bag of the constituency, therefore, the question of recording any finding about rejection of votes did not arise.”

Published in Dawn, October 3rd, 2014