THIS is with reference to the report ‘ECP goes public on attempted rigging in by-election’ (Feb 21). As the son of a government employee who has served in four elections as a presiding officer, I have my concerns regarding the claim by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) that some presiding officers allegedly meddled with the by-election results in NA-75.
Presiding officers work in difficult conditions, and daring acts, like twisting results, do not stand a chance. If I may refer to the 2018 general elections alone, law-enforcement agency personnel had locked my father and his team within the polling station premises on the eve of the polling day.
They were not allowed to bring food or anything from the local shops. My father is a diabetic and so were few others on the team. At 10pm, I went to deliver food and pillows. I had to argue for 10 minutes with the law-enforcement personnel before they passed it to the staff.
The election day was hectic. However, my father managed to put out small fires here and there. The vote-counting process was a challenge, as the law-enforcers kept interfering to the extent that at one point my father locked the room from the inside, allowing only a police constable in the room.
Feeling insulted, the officer in uniform kept delaying the provision of state-sanctioned security escort and finally said he would not accompany the results to the returning officer (RO). My father drove alone at 1.30am amid rain to the relevant RO’s office.
Keeping in view the above situation, ask yourself if putting the onus of mismanagement on the presiding officers alone make sense? Anyone can manage to get hold of election results given the security situation.
Published in Dawn, February 26th, 2021