ECP declares NA-75 by-election null and void, orders new election on March 18

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday declared NA-75 by-polls null and void,’ and ordered re-polling in the constituency on March 18.

According to the details, the Election Commission of Pakistan after hearing arguments from PTI, PML-N and the RO had reserved the judgment.

“The people were not provided with the right to vote in a true manner”, ECP said.

Terming the polling null and void in the NA-75 Daska, the ECP has ordered re-polling in the constituency on March 18.

This comes as the Returning Officer (RO) of NA-75 Daska By-poll has admitted that presiding officers of 23 polling stations were found involved in rigging.

According to the report submitted to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), Returning Officer (RO) said that the investigation revealed that presiding officers were involved in rigging.

PML-N candidate Nausheen Iftikhar raised reservations over the results by stating the difference between the Form 45 copy available with her and with Presiding Officer ‘different’.

According to Presiding Officer’s, PML-N candidates secured 3500 votes from the 23 polling stations, while Nausheen claimed to get 5000 votes, Returning Officer said in his statement.

It appears that the results were altered, RO claimed and suggested re-polling on the 23 polling stations.

Meanwhile, The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday also directed the PTI to submit its response in the suspected tampering of the NA-75 Daska by-election results by tomorrow.

The hearing was chaired by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja. The hearing is adjourned till Thursday.

The PTI’s legal counsel had asked for more time to submit the record and had asked for a week to submit “verified results and proof”. However, the CEC turned down the request, stating that the “weather was no longer bad”, in an apparent reference to the claims of the presiding officers regarding fog on the night of the by-election.

He added that the ECP will conclude the NA-75 by-poll. If the election was fair, the results will be released. If it is not, then re-polling can be done,” he said.

This comes as the ECP had seized the electoral record of by-polls in NA-75 Daska on Saturday after rigging allegations were levelled against each other in the constituency by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan had requested the PTI candidate to ask for re-polling at the 20 polling stations.

“Have always struggled for fair and free elections. So even though there is no legal compulsion to do so before ECP announces results, I would request our PTI candidate to ask for re-polling in the 20 polling stations Opposition is crying hoarse over in the Daska NA 75 be-election,” he said.

“It is because we want the transparency that we are seeking open ballot for Senate elections. We will always seek to strengthen a fair and free election process. Unfortunately, others lack this commitment. When we wanted 4 constituencies opened after the 2013 elections, it took us over two years,” he added.

Previously, PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz also claimed that security agencies were involved in the rigging of the by-election in Daska.

Speaking to the media in Lahore last day, Maryam said that the elections were rigged systematically. “The election officers harassed voters and tried to influence their votes.” She also claimed that the basic rights of voters were “snatched” in Daska. “The polling centres were closed and voting was suspended for over six hours. Even the firing outside the stations was planned.”

She also claimed that the PTI’s camps were empty and the voting process was made slow where PMLN supporter was visible. She raises questions as to what was being done inside polling stations with the doors shut when there was still time to cast votes.

Raja Furqan Ahmed

Raja Furqan Ahmed is the News Editor of The Pakistan Daily.

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