Most Forms 45 had no signature of polling agents, says senator

Updated 26 Sep 2018

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Polling staff count ballot papers at a polling station in Islamabad on July 25. — INP/File
Polling staff count ballot papers at a polling station in Islamabad on July 25. — INP/File

ISLAMABAD: As the controversy over alleged rigging in general elections and exclusion of Senate members from the parliamentary committee formed to probe it continues to reverberate in the Senate, a lawmaker claimed that 92 per cent of the Forms 45 had no signatures of polling agents.

Taking part in the discussion on the third report on general elections presented in the house by the Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior, Rehman Malik, PML-N senator Javed Abbasi said that under the law it was mandatory for presiding officers to get signatures of polling agents of candidates when results of a polling station were tabulated on Forms 45.

He, however, claimed that a majority of Forms 45 had no signatures of winners or their polling agents, leaving no doubt that polling results had been changed.

NP chief rejects committee on Balochistan’s mineral resources under Jehangir Tareen

Referring to the RTS fiasco, he said that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had held out an assurance before the polls that there was no possibility of the system failure as it had a backup system in place, but now members of the ruling party were also saying that the system had been shut down. He demanded formation of a powerful parliamentary commission to investigate rigging in polls from all aspects.

Mr Abbasi alleged that the government wanted to sweep the matter under the carpet and made it clear that a committee of the National Assembly alone was not acceptable and that a parliamentary commission having representation of members from both houses of parliament should be formed to investigate RTS failure and other associated issues involving alleged manipulation at different stages of the electoral exercise.

He rejected the plea for exclusion of the Senate in the committee, saying these were elections to national and provincial assemblies and both the National and provincial assemblies formed the electoral college for Senate polls.

He said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had promised to address all concerns of the opposition over polls and urged the government to fulfil its promise.

Taking part in the discussion, PPP senator Mian Raza Rabbani said that the Senate was the first house where the matter of rigging in elections had been raised and it had also been demanded that committee of the two houses be formed to investigate rigging complaints.

He said that he had always tried to avoid confrontation between two houses of parliament, but regretted that the National Assembly in its first sitting after presidential polls dealt a blow to the unity and supremacy of parliament and instead of a parliamentary panel, a committee of the National Assembly had been formed.

He said that the criterion of what concerned which house would limit the jurisdiction of parliament.

The chairman, who had written a letter to the speaker of the National Assembly, expressed the hope that composition of the committee would soon be changed to include members from the Senate also in it.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan told the house that a decision on composition of the poll rigging probe committee had been taken in consultation with leaders of opposition parties. He said that those who had accepted it included PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, PML-N’s Khawaja Asif and ANP’s Amir Haider Hoti.

Former federal minister and chief of the National Party Mir Hasil Bizenjo on a point of order said that according to his information, the federal government had formed a committee on Reko Diq, Saindak and other mineral resources of Balochistan with Jehangir Tareen as its head.

“The federal government has nothing to do with it and it must desist from meddling in a matter which is purely a provincial subject,” he said.

Published in Dawn, September 26th, 2018