The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday rejected the PTI’s plea for a recount of votes in PP-7 Rawalpindi-II, where it lost to the PML-N by a razor-thin 49 vote margin.
The decision was announced by a five-member bench headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja, Dawn reported.
The ECP said in a brief ruling that the petitioner, PTI candidate Shabbir Awan, could neither prove any fraud or irregularity during the polls nor was he able to state the reasons for the recount.
Immediately after it was announced, PTI leader Shafqat Mahmood took to Twitter, calling the verdict “against the law.” “Loss of neutrality and integrity by the ECP has far-reaching consequences for democracy,” he said.
The decision of the Election Commission to deny recounting in PP 7 is not only against the law but amounts to undermining the election process. Loss of neutrality and integrity by the ECP has far reaching consequences for democracy.
— Shafqat Mahmood (@Shafqat_Mahmood) July 21, 2022
During the Punjab by-elections on July 17, PML-N’s Raja Sagheer won the by-poll on the provincial assembly seat with 68,906 votes, defeating Awan managed to bag 68,857 votes.
PTI won 15 out of 20 seats, while PML-N only got four. An independent candidate also managed to win one constituency.
The PTI had also raised questions over the delayed announcement of the result in the constituency.
PP 7 results being withheld. This last minute attempt to change result will not be allowed to happen. Our teams must remain at the pollling stations where the results have not been finalized and the RO office. Akhri ball tak focused rahna hai aur result ley kar uthna hai.
— Asad Umar (@Asad_Umar) July 17, 2022
Subsequently, Awan applied to the returning officer and requested a recount. His plea was, however, rejected, drawing criticism from the PTI.
Later, Awan approached the Lahore High Court’s Rawalpindi bench assailing the RO’s “illegal decision” of rejecting a plea for recount in PP-7.
But on Wednesday, the court restrained the RO from consolidating the result of PP-7 and converted Awan’s petition challenging the RO’s decision to reject a plea for recount into an application to be taken up by the ECP.
“To streamline the process, the petitioner is directed to appear before the respondent [ECP] on July 21 at 10 am when the needful shall be done,” it had said.