A returning officer (RO) from Balochistan on Thursday told the Election Commission of Pakistan that two presiding officers were allegedly abducted by masked men on election day, which led to their polling stations' results not being included in the final count of the constituency PB-41, located in the Washuk district.

The issue was taken up by the ECP after the petition filed by the losing candidate, Balochistan Awami Party's Mir Mujeebur Rehman Mohammad Hasani, drew its attention to the fact that the results of polling stations number 44 and 45 were missing from the final result of Balochistan Assembly constituency PB-41, located in the Washuk district.

The RO quoted the two presiding officers as claiming that they did not compile the results of their constituencies themselves and that "they were forced to submit the results compiled by their abductors."

"Who had abducted them?" asked an ECP official.

Letter written by presiding officer.
Letter written by presiding officer.

At this, Kamran Murtaza, the counsel of PB-41 seat winner belonging to MMA, quoted the presiding officers as saying that they were "abducted by security forces".

The presiding officer of polling station 44 was then presented before the ECP. "Several masked men came and took me with them," he said. "After several hours I was handed the Form 45."

Meanwhile, the ECP has uploaded a letter on its website which is written by the presiding officer of polling station 45. In the letter, which is verified and stamped by the returning officer of PB-41, the presiding officer said that he was "abducted by security forces which later forced him to submit the form 45 with the fabricated number of votes written on it" to favour the MMA candidate.

Murtaza, however, reminded the ECP that a presiding officer of NA-270, which was also located in the same region, had included the result of these polling stations in the final count and compiled the Form 45.

The ECP adjourned the case and asked the NA-270 RO as well as the winning candidate to appear at the next hearing, scheduled for August 28.