ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) received as many as 35 complaints of minor abnormalities from the three national and provincial assembly constituencies where by-elections were held on Oct 11.
ECP Secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh Mohammad said that they had also received an application from the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) regarding Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s alleged attempt to influence the by-election in NA-122 by being present in Lahore on polling day.
Addressing a press conference on Sunday, Mr Babar claimed that at all three constituencies i.e. NA-122, NA-144 and PP-147, polling concluded at 5pm in a relatively peaceful manner.
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To ensure transparency, he said, all district returning officers (DROs) and returning officers (ROs) were deputed from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. Not a single officer was deputed from federal capital or Punjab, he added.
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“Despite different engagements and security issues all over the country, the Pakistan Army provided troops and helped ECP fulfil its constitutional responsibility. The army provided over six thousand troops for Lahore and Okara,” he said.
Mr Babar said this was not the first time the Pakistan Army provided such a large number of troops for elections. Troops remained in and outside polling stations and ensured the safe conduct of elections.
“In the past, a large [contingent] of army and Rangers personnel were provided for the elections in NA 246 in Karachi,” he said.
“Moreover, Punjab police also provided over 7,000 men to help ensure peaceful polling in both Lahore and Okara,” he said.
Mr Babar said that while no major complaints of rule violations or rigging had been received, the commission had gotten around 35 smaller complaints.
“At some places, stamps were broken or de-shaped. In one instance, a polling agent was stopped from entering the polling station because there was no stamp on his authority letter, but that issue was resolved immediately,” he said.
Mr Babar also said that the ECP was considering the PTI’s application regarding the PM’s visit to Lahore.
On the last day of campaigning, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited different areas of Lahore, prompting the PTI to object to the visit and term it a violation of ECP rules.
Mr Babar also said that according to ECP rules ballot boxes cannot be opened and counting cannot be started before 5pm.
“Those TV channels which claimed that they had received the results before 5pm and announced results just after 5pm, should themselves look into how they did that and whether it was possible,” he said.
Published in Dawn, October 12th, 2015