ISLAMABAD: The February 8 general elections have lost its credibility entirely as people in Pakistan as well as the international community, including the UN, have demanded a thorough investigation into alleged irregularities.

The confession of Liaquat Ali Chattha, former commissioner of Rawalpindi Division, that the losers in the elections were turned into winners in the whole division has further deepened the uncertainty in the country.

These views were expressed by a civil society organisation, Pattan, in a statement on Sunday.

“Our group Pattan-Coalition38 — a largest, an independent and self-financed election observation body — had observed the elections 2024. While we fully support the demand for thorough and holistic investigation of the conduct of election from delimitation of constituencies to the announcement of the election results as well as denying election symbol to PTI, selection and appointment of DROs and ROs, suspension of internet and cellular services on the polling day, preparation and tampering of Form 47s and unexplainable delays in the announcement of results, we strongly demand to start audit of Form 47 in light of Form 45s of each constituency under the supervision of session judges and in the presence of candidates/election agents, independent observers and media persons. In order to prevent further controversy, we suggest making arrangements for providing live coverage to the whole process. This will also enhance people’s trust and confidence in democratic elections,” it stated.

Demands audit of Form 47 in light of Form 45 of each constituency under supervision of sessions judges

“Moreover, we demand immediate removal of the chief election commissioner as he has miserably failed at each phase of the conduct of elections. Under Article 218 of the Constitution, the Election Commission is responsible to hold free, fair, just, honest and transparent elections. He has miserably failed us. Therefore, in his presence as CEC, the proposed audit of Form 47s and Form 45s can’t be held,” it stated.

“Since Pattan had observed and analysed the whole electoral process of the election, we are confident to note that rigging at each step of the election was likely to be part of a grand strategy. Therefore, it appears necessary to investigate the role of its authors, the implementors and who are the possible beneficiaries,” it added.

It said there should be complete protection to whistle-blowers as it helps build people’s trust in democracy, rule of law and helps control corrupt practices.

“We note with deep concern that the caretaker government instead of providing full protection to the whistle-blower has taken him into custody. We strongly condemn this harassment and arrest of the whistle-blower,” it stated.

Published in Dawn, February 19th, 2024

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