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Monday, July 15, 2024

ECP rejects Imran Khan’s rigging allegations in Punjab by-polls

Chief election commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja says all these allegations have nothing to with reality.

The Election Commission of Pakistan on Monday rejected PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s allegations that the chief election commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja “tried to rig” Sunday’s Punjab by-polls to favour the ruling PML-N.

ECP spokesperson Haroon Shinwari said, “All these allegations have nothing to with reality. The commission will continue to perform its duties in accordance with the Constitution and law.”

Earlier in a victory speech, Imran called the CEC “dishonest” and asked him to resign, adding that free and fair elections cannot take place in the country under his supervision.

“Under this ECP, free and fair election cannot take place. The country’s biggest party does not trust it. I ask CEC to resign. We have no confidence in you. You’re a biased person and connected with a party,” Khan alleged.

On Monday, PTI sought a recount of votes in PP-7 Rawalpindi-II and alleged the government of rigging, casting doubts over the defeat of its candidate with a razor-thin margin.

The returning officer concerned has called all contesting candidates to his office on Tuesday (today) for a decision on the plea.

PML-N candidate Raja Sagheer won the by-poll on the Punjab Assembly seat with a margin of just 49 votes, defeating PTI’s Muhammad Shabbir Awan as per the unofficial result, prompting the PTI to question the delayed announcement of results in the constituency.

Read more: Imran Khan demands early elections after victory in Punjab

In his application, Shabbir Awan contended that the winning PMLN candidate received 68,906 votes, while he secured 68,857 with the difference of a mere 49 votes. He said the Result Transmission System was meant to transmit Form 45: the statement of the count; from polling stations to the returning officer and the ECP Secretariat while using a smart phone. He pointed out that the difference in votes between him and the winning candidate fell under the prescribed threshold of five per cent of total votes polled and 10,000 votes pursuant to Section 95 (5) of the Elections Act 2017.

Section 95(5) of the act reads: “Before commencement of the consolidation proceedings, the returning officer shall recount ballot papers of one or more polling stations if a request or challenge in writing is made by a contesting candidate or his election agent and the margin of victory is less than five per cent of the total votes polled in the constituency or 10,000 votes, whichever is less…”. Under a proviso with the section, the recount is to be made by the returning officer only once.

The RO concerned has summoned all candidates to the election camp office in Kahuta at 11:30am on Tuesday (today) for a decision.

Read more: PTI hits back at PM Shehbaz for pressurizing Election Commission

The Election Commission of Pakistan had established 266 polling stations, comprising 787 polling booths, for 335,295 registered voters in the constituency. A total of six candidates were in the run in PP-7, which includes Kahuta and Kallar Syedan.

With input from The News