ECP takes notice of irregularities, violence in by-polls

Published April 22, 2024
BAJAUR: Counting of ballots is under way at a polling station after voting for the by-election in NA-8 and PK-22 ended, on Sunday.—Dawn
BAJAUR: Counting of ballots is under way at a polling station after voting for the by-election in NA-8 and PK-22 ended, on Sunday.—Dawn

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has taken notice of irregularities and violence during the by-elections on 21 seats of national and provincial assemblies on Sunday, the electoral watchdog said in a statement.

According to an official press release, the ECP took action on the killing of a man near a polling station in Narowal constituency (PP-54) of Punjab Assembly.

Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja discussed the issue with the relevant police official and directed them to take action against the killers.

The commission also took notice of the reports that some presiding officers had forced polling agents to sign blank Form-45 in Punjab Assembly’s PP-149 constituency (Lahore-III).

According to a press release, the commission sought a report from the provincial election commissioner for further action.

Seeks report on man’s death, signing of blank Form 45s in Punjab; Atta Tarar says ‘voters have rejected PTI’

Form-45 carries the tally of total votes polled in favour of a candidate at a polling station. After the form is duly filled by the staff, it is signed by the polling agents of respective political parties.

The commission also took notice of the entry of armed men into a polling station in Balochistan Assembly’s PB-50 constituency in Qilla Abdullah.

On the complaints of some candidates and the Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, the ECP sought a report over the alleged abduction of the polling staff.

Earlier, the ECP had set up an Election Monitoring Control Centre at its Islamabad Secretariat to monitor the polling process during the by-elections.

The ECP also introduced a helpline and email address for citizens to register their complaints about the polling process.

An official statement said the monitoring centre would function till the completion of the polling process.

‘Voters rejected PTI’

As results were still awaited late on Sunday night, Federal Information Minister Attaullah Tarar claimed his party, PML-N’s, victory and said it was a “manifestation of people’s trust” in the incumbent government’s policy, APP reported.

He added that the results were a “clear rejection” of PTI’s “narrative of falsehood”, which was created by the party’s leader from behind bars.

“Preliminary results of today’s by-polls have validated the fact that the people of Pakistan firmly believe in the leadership of the PML-N,” the minister said in a video message.

He added the economic reforms implemented by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his team “had given hope to the masses” who “reposed their trust in the government by voting for the PML-N”.

The incumbent government had “kicked off the journey towards economic stability” by curbing inflation and increasing foreign reserves, Mr Tarar said in his message.

He accused the PTI leadership of “conspiring against the country”. “They are issuing statements from jails that have seriously damaged the credibility of Pakistan at the international level.”

“People have rejected the PTI founder’s politics of hatred, chaos, division, falsehood and hypocrisy,” the minister said in an apparent reference to the incarcerated PTI founder Imran Khan.

He said the performance of the PML-N governments in the centre and Punjab resulted in the victory. He also thanked the voters for exercising their democratic right and “standing by truth and burying the narrative of falsehood,” APP added.

Published in Dawn, April 22nd, 2024

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