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ROs yet to send key documents to ECP

Updated December 14, 2014

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In this photo, a candidate files his nomination papers to the returning officer. — APP/File
In this photo, a candidate files his nomination papers to the returning officer. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: The returning officers drawn from the judiciary for the general elections held last year have not provided to the Election Commission (ECP) two important polling documents for as many as 51 National Assembly constituencies.

The documents include Forms 14 and 15, which are considered essential for an objective assessment of the polls.

Form 14 is a statement of count prepared by the presiding officer featuring the total number of registered voters at a polling station along with gender disaggregated data, number of votes polled, rejected votes and valid votes.

Form 15 is a ballot paper account prepared by the presiding officer. It carries statistics about the number of ballot papers entrusted to him, and those taken out from the ballot boxes and counted, besides the number of tendered, challenged and spoilt ballots.

Thirty-six of the 51 constituencies from where the key documents are to be received by the ECP are from Punjab, seven from Sindh, three each from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan while two are from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).

The PML-N was declared winner in 33 of these constituencies while JUI-F was winner in six. Pakistan People’s Party, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement won three seats each. One such seat was won by the Balochistan National Party (BNP) while the remaining two were won by independent candidates .

The three constituencies from KP were NA-24 and 25 (D. I. Khan) and NA 27 (Lakki Marwat). Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the JUI-F chief, had won elections on all the three seats but opted to retain NA-24. In bye-elections, the PTI candidates won from both NA-25 and NA-27.

The two constituencies from FATA were NA-40 and NA-42 of North and South Waziristan respectively.

The 33 constituencies from Punjab included the ones from where National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, son of Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shahbaz, , Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique, Jaffar Khan Leghari and Sikandar Hayat Bosan of PML-N had won the elections.

These also include NA-149 and NA-150 from Multan, both of which had been won by PTI. Makhdoom Javed Hashmi was the winner in 2013 polls, but lost by-elections contested by him as an independent candidate after resigning from the National Assembly. The seat from NA-150 was won by Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi, vice chairman of PTI.

The seven such constituencies in Sindh included the ones from where Opposition leader Syed Khursheed Shah, senior PPP leader Aftab Shabaan Mirani and Nauman Islam Sheikh, son of Islamuddin Sheikh, won the elections.

The two constituencies from Balochistan are NA-264 and NA-272, won by Maulana Muhammad Khan Sheerani of JUI F and Syed Essa Nori (BNP) respectively.

Civil society has been clamouring for a long time the placement of key Election-related documents, including forms 14,15, 16 and 17 on the Election Commission’s website. The promise to do so had been made by the then Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim last year.

Election law requires that the statements of count and ballot paper account will be posted for public inspection at each polling station immediately upon completion of the count. However this provision is conveniently ignored in many constituencies.

It was only recently that the ECP discovered that it should be the custodian of the key election material and a decision to construct storage houses in all the provincial election commissions was taken to keep them under its custody.

Published in Dawn December 14th , 2014