ISLAMABAD: The Free and Fair Elections Network (Fafen) on Sunday stated that NA-75 Sialkot-IV (Daska) by-election witnessed low incidences of electoral violation as procedures were generally transparent and election staff conducted the process with care and mostly in accordance with prescribed regulations.
“The polling process was generally observed to be organised at the observed polling stations. Nearly 71 percent (95) of the observed polling stations had polling booths in separate rooms; however, around 29pc of the polling stations — 21 male, 11 female, and six combined — housed more than one booth in a single room. The polling agents of contesting candidates were present at all observed polling stations, and all of them except at one polling station were seated at a place where they could easily observe the process,” read the report issued by Fafen on the by-election held on Saturday.
The report said that political competition was heightened following the decision of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), which was maintained by the Supreme Court also, to have re-poll in the constituency after reported incidents of rigging and irregularities during and after polling in the by-election conducted earlier on Feb 19.
It said that according to the Provisional Consolidated Statement of the Result of the Count (Form-47), a total of 1,702 votes were excluded from the count. During the general elections 2018, Syed Iftikhar ul Hassan had won this constituency as a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) candidate by securing 101,617 polled votes while Ali Asjad Malhi of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) was declared runner-up securing 61,432 votes.
Voters outside 91pc polling stations express satisfaction with the voting process
The seat had fallen vacant after the death of Syed Iftikhar ul Hassan, which was now won by PML-N’s Syeda Nosheen Iftikhar.
The report said that Fafen’s trained citizen observers reported a total of 193 violations of which 115 were related to presence of party camps outside the polling stations. In 38 instances, the polling staff had established more than one booth in a single room. The other 40 instances of violations pertained to procedural irregularities mainly in voting and counting processes.
It said that despite the third wave of Covid-19 and the controversies emerged in the by-election, a large number of voters both male and female came out to vote in re-poll held on April 10. In this constituency of 494,003 registered voters three political parties and six independent candidates were in the run.
The report said voters outside 91pc of polling stations — 43 male, 27 female, and 51 combined — expressed their full satisfaction with the process, while voters outside the remaining polling stations were found to be partially satisfied.
The report said that the ECP chalked out an effective security plan and deployed officers of Pakistan Army and Rangers along with police personnel inside and outside of the polling stations.
Published in Dawn, April 12th, 2021