KARACHI: The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Wednesday grudgingly accepted the Election Commission of Pakistan’s decision ordering a recount of the votes polled in the recently held by-election in the NA-249 constituency on a request of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
The gesture and concerns came from the PPP leadership which, minutes after the ECP decision on Tuesday, engaged itself in an indirect spate of words with the PML-N. The fresh development has once again brought the two key opposition parties against each other. They have been on a path of tit-for-tat accusations since the emergence of their differences under the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) alliance.
“The request forwarded by Miftah Ismail [PML-N candidate and former federal finance minister] here at RO office had not all those reservations, concerns and prays which they filed to Election Commission in Islamabad,” said the Sindh Education Minister and PPP Karachi division president, Saeed Ghani, at a press conference in Sindh Assembly’s Committee Room.
“Then the ECP came up with one decision after another. Here [in Karachi] we witnessed some other kind of reaction from the ECP based on the rules and regulations and then the same ECP allowed recounting of votes polled while taking up the case in Islamabad. Being a democratic party, we welcome the ECP decision but the circumstances suggest things are not that simple. There is something behind all this exercise.”
‘There is something behind all this exercise’
He said the returning officer had rejected Mr Ismail’s request on May 1 citing that the PML-N had not mentioned any polling stations where it had found any rigging or violation of the defined rules.
“Then the consolidation was decided and our party members with the leaders were there at the set time, but there was no one from the ECP and the PML-N,” he said. “Then suddenly we came to know about the ECP Islamabad decision for a recount. We believe there are some forces behind this decision which first stopped the process of consolidation and then issued orders for a recount without any significant evidence.”
Only on Tuesday, the ECP ordered recounting of votes polled in the recently held by-election in NA-249 igniting a war of words between the PPP and the PML-N as one hailed the decision and the other assailed it.
The exercise of a recount of votes to be carried out on May 6 (today) was ordered by a four-member bench of the ECP headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja on a petition filed by PML-N candidate Dr Miftah Ismail. The commission had directed leaders of all political parties that had contested the by-election to reach the office of the returning officer at 9am on Thursday for a vote recount.
However, it seems quite clear that whatever the results of the recount might be, the fresh by-election is becoming another source of widening the gulf between the two parties.
“After winning the by-election, we were accused of being backed by the selectors,” said Mr Ghani. “In response, we would like to pose a counter-question to the accusers that whether or not selectors had backed their recent by-election wins in Daska, Wazirabad and Nowshehra.”
Published in Dawn, May 6th, 2021