ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan on Tuesday rejected the demand of the recent multiparty conference for resignation of its office-bearers and asked the critics to desist from indulging in a blame game and respect people’s mandate.
“Such unfounded allegations about free, fair and transparent elections are not only deplorable but also contrary to the facts,” said ECP Secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh Mohammad while reading out a statement of the commission at a press conference.
He said people exercised their right to franchise in a free environment and no complaint with regard to poll rigging in 2018 elections had been received from any part of the country so far. “The disrespect for people’s mandate on the basis of personal benefit is uncalled for and against the basic principles of democracy,” the ECP official insisted.
Rejects demand of multiparty conference for resignation of its office-bearers
If any candidate has a complaint about any constituency or polling station they should adopt the course defined in the law to seek remedy, according to the ECP statement.
The official also criticised the demand made by some political parties after the multiparty conference for resignation of ECP’s office-bearers as contrary to the Constitution.
The ECP secretary expressed the hope that both the winners and losers would respect the mandate given to them and play a positive role for the continuation of the democratic process in the country.
Mr Yaqoob said at least 30,000 observers, including 400 foreign observers besides national and international media representatives, closely examined different phases of the electoral process to assess the conduct of free, fair and transparent polls.
The official claimed that the European Union, Commonwealth and Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen) observation missions in their preliminary reports held that the elections were free, fair and transparent. He said it was a matter of pride and a democratic victory of the entire nation.
Referring to the steps taken for providing a level playing field to political parties, the ECP secretary stated that elections in NA-60 (Rawalpindi) had been postponed following the conviction of a PML-N candidate and directions had been issued to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to ensure that no party was thrown out of the electoral race. The ECP not only took notice of stoppage of caravans of important political leaders but also ordered an inquiry into the entire episode, he recalled.
The official explained that the commission took several measures to ensure swift access of the people to all the electoral processes and provided timely information to the stakeholders through media and its official website. He said the information included details of delimitation, revision of electoral rolls, scrutiny of nomination forms, and final list of electoral candidates.
The ECP secretary explained that it was for the first time in the country’s history that all the over 85,000 polling stations had been surveyed and instructions issued to the respective provincial governments for provision of missing facilities identified during the survey.
Likewise, he added, quality election material in suitable quantity had been made available and no complaint about lack of election material was received from across the country.
The ECP official also referred to the comprehensive code of conduct for political parties and candidates developed by it through a consultative process and the monitoring mechanism put in place to take action over its violation.
He pointed out that complaint cells had been established at the ECP secretariat and offices of provincial election commissioners to address the poll day complaints that worked 24/7. The cells received only 675 complaints which were immediately addressed, he added.
The ECP official said preliminary results of all the constituencies were not only announced but also placed on its official website. Besides, he said, the commission acted on over 100 applications for recount of votes after announcement of preliminary results.
Explanation had been sought from all the provincial election commissioners, district returning officers and returning officers over delay in election results, Mr Yaqoob said. The failure of the Result Transmission System (RTS) would be thoroughly probed, he vowed.
“The ECP expects that the democratic forces and individuals while setting aside their personal gains would not only desist from uncalled for criticism of constitutional institutions for the supremacy of constitution, law and democracy, but will also play their role for a stable democratic Pakistan,” he concluded.
Winners asked to file returns
Meanwhile, the ECP asked successful candidates to submit their returns of election expenses with the returning officers (ROs) concerned at the earliest so that notifications of their success could be issued.
An official of the ECP said it was a legal requirement for the elected candidates to submit their statements of election expenses within 10 days after the poll day. He said none of the winning candidates had filed returns of their election expenses so far. The last date for the purpose was Aug 4, he said, warning that the notifications of those who failed to do so would not be issued.
Published in Dawn, August 1st, 2018