Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja presides over a meeting with international observes and media on Oct 3. — ECP account on X

Journalists censure ECP for ‘farcical failure’ in delivering results, laud PTI for demonstrating ‘power of vote’

Meher Bokhari urges CEC Raja to resign, while Zarrar Khuhro says all evidence points to one logical conclusion.
Published February 9, 2024

Despite the suspension of cellular service, internet outage, sporadic violence and complaints of mismanagement — including delayed starts at some polling stations — Pakistanis voted in general elections 2024 on Thursday.

Ahead of the polls, Chief Election Commission (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja had assured that the watchdog had an “exclusive and independent networking system”, and that there would be no delay in election results.

However, the claim of its Election Management System (EMS) being up to the mark fell flat as the ECP took more than nine hours to release the first results and has continued to operate at a snail’s pace since then amid allegations of rigging.

The delay evoked memories of 2018 when EMS’ precursor and much ridiculed Result Transmission System (RTS) had crashed, delaying results and raising eyebrows. A repeat of the same meant that CEC Raja earned the wrath of all and sundry, including political experts.

CEC should resign: Meher Bokhari

After the 2am deadline for returning officers (ROs) to submit Form 47s lapsed and the ECP chief issued a warning, journalist Meher Bokhari, in a social media post, said that the Raja should resign if he did not know what was happening. “Forget action against ROs. CEC should resign himself now if he doesn’t know what is happening.”

All the evidence points to one logical conclusion: Zarrar Khuhro

Dawn News journalist Zarrar Khuhro, in a post on X, implied that “unexpected delays, mobile blockage, and the ‘missing chairman’ were evidence of dark arts at work, unless one believes every RO is incompetent and cannot count”.

ECP has completely failed: Hamid Mir

Senior journalist Hamid Mir said it was the ECP’s responsibility to release all the results by 10am today, adding that the watchdog had “completely failed in fulfilling its responsibility”.

Delay turned historical moment into a farce: Syed Talal Hussain

Another senior journalist, Syed Talat Hussain, said the 2024 election was a crucial moment in the country’s history but rued that delayed results turned it into a “farce”.

He described the alleged denial of Form 45s — a form filled by the polling station presiding officers carrying details of votes secured by candidates — to key candidates as a “scandal”, questioning the transparency of the electoral process.

PTI lauded for ‘spirit of defiance’, demonstrating ‘power of vote’

Senior Journalist Mazhar Abbas said that the PTI created history against all odds, and urged the democrats to accept it.

Analyst Khurram Husain commended PTI voters for their “spirit of defiance” despite “all attempts to keep them down”.

Journalist Amber Shamsi said that PTI voters have “demonstrated the power of vote despite oppression and challenges”.

She also said that the openness with which the delays in results were being discussed on television was “one of the positives”.

Things not going as planned: foreign observer

Sunday Times’ chief foreign correspondent Christina Lamb said the election results suggested that things were not “going as planned” for the powers that be.

She said that despite being in jail and his party’s election symbol taken away, Imran’s independents were in a “shock lead”.