The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday directed the PTI to submit its response in the suspected tampering of the NA-75 Daska by-election results by tomorrow.
The hearing, presided over by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja, was 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” and to submit the record by tomorrow.
He also remarked that the ECP will reach a conclusion regarding 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.
During today’s hearing, the PML-N candidate’s lawyer, Salman Akram Raja, stated that an environment of “terror” was created in the constituency on polling day. “Shots were being fired in broad day light,” he said.
He contended that 20 presiding officers suddenly vanished and “miraculously” reappeared the next day. “Re-polling should not only be done at those particular polling stations. We need to cast an eye on the election in the whole constituency,” he said, adding that this was a pre-planned “operation”.
A video of shot fired outside a polling station in Daska was also presented to the ECP. “PTI workers can be seen firing shots in the presence of the party’s candidate, Ali Asjad Malhi,” the PML-N lawyer said.
The returning office also submitted his report to the ECP. He said that the results from 337 polling stations were added to the RMS by 3:30am. “There was a delay [in the results] for 20 polling stations,” he said, adding that 19 presiding officers could not be contacted.
“The presiding officers were accompanied by police officials. Did you try contacting them through the wireless?” asked the chief election commissioner. The returning officer replied that he had instructed the Daska DSP to do so but were still unable to contact the presiding officers.
He added that out of the 20 polling stations, the results of ten were received between 4:30am and 6:30am. “There is no difference in the results of the four of these polling stations; the results of the presiding officer and the polling agents are the same,” he said.
He added that some of the presiding officers said that they were unreachable due to car troubles or fog.
The CEC noted that when the RO contacted the commission the night of the by-poll he seemed “distressed”. “You had said that the police and the administration were not cooperating,” he said.
The RO replied that the administration did cooperate but a large crowd of people, comprising PML-N and PTI supporters, had gathered outside the office.
On Monday, 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 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.