Claims, counterclaims over 2018 poll results

Updated July 11, 2019

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The Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) reaction on Wednesday to the claim by Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari about the ‘missing Forms-45’ revived the controversy over the July 2018 general election results. — AFP/File
The Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) reaction on Wednesday to the claim by Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari about the ‘missing Forms-45’ revived the controversy over the July 2018 general election results. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) reaction on Wednesday to the claim by Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari about the ‘missing Forms-45’ revived the controversy over the July 2018 general election results.

The commission, while rejecting the claim of Mr Bhutto-Zardari during his public address in Dera Ismail Khan, asserted that all the Forms-45, -46, -48 and -49 had been placed on the commission’s official website as per Section 95 of the Elections Act.

Hours after ECP’s assertion, the PPP came up with an explosive rejoinder, explaining that 95 per cent of the Forms-45 remained unsigned despite the fact that an unsigned Form-45 could not be regarded as an authentic document of election results.

ECP asserts vote count forms uploaded on website; PPP argues unsigned document has no legal value

In the rejoinder, PPP secretary general Farhatullah Babar said the party was surprised and dismayed over the ECP insistence that all data pertaining to Form-45 containing the results of vote count of the 2018 polls had been uploaded on its website.

He described it as twisting of facts and unbecoming of a constitutional body like the ECP.

Mr Babar said: “Form-45 containing vote count results was a basic document of vote count. It is mandatory that it is also signed by the polling agents of candidates contesting elections. An unsigned Form-45 has no legal value. This is what PPP chairman Mr Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has been saying all along.

“The PPP’s election cell, headed by Senator Taj Haider, has complete data of Form-45 and other election-related forms painstakingly prepared by Fafen (Free and Fair Elections Network) pertaining to all the 78,467 polling stations for National Assembly in the country.

“As many as 95pc Form-45 (numbering 74,302) do not bear signatures of polling agents. Only 65 forms bear the signatures of polling agents of the PPP.”

Giving justification for keeping the document unsigned, the ECP had claimed sometime back that polling agents of the losing candidates had left polling stations on their own without signing the forms.

The PPP secretary general said: “The polling agents of most candidates were driven out of the polling stations, no doubt, as the ECP was helpless. Even if the presiding officers were unable to record that polling agents had been driven out, they should have at least recorded as required by law that polling agents had left on their own.

“Moreover, the ECP should at least have been able to produce Form-45 duly signed by the polling agents of the winning candidates who should have been eager to sign their victory certificates. None of it was done for reasons not known.”

Mr Babar said some figures would help illustrate this further.

‘‘In Balochistan, not a single form out of 2,427 Forms-45 was found signed by polling agents, in Sindh only 74 out of 17, 493 and in Punjab only 27 out of 43,971 Forms-45 have been found signed by PML-N polling agents and 39 by the polling agents of PTI candidates. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, out of a total of 13,790, only 24 Forms-45 were found with signatures of PTI polling agents, 13 of the PML-N and 18 of PPP polling agents.

“In the two constituencies, NA-246 and NA-200, where Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari was a candidate, none of the Forms-45 was signed by the polling agent.

“No unsigned Form-45 can be regarded as document authenticating election results. The ECP’s insistence on flaunting unsigned Form-45 as proof of authenticity of vote count passes comprehension and only raises further questions,” he said.

Published in Dawn, July 11th, 2019