ECP orders inquiry
The results of Sialkot’s NA-75 by-election have been withheld after the PML-N accused the ruling PTI of attempting to rig the by-polls.
The voting was held from 8am to 5pm on Friday. Voting at some polling stations in Dask was halted after two people were killed and seven injured in a firing incident. After the counting, the Election Commission of Pakistan received results of 337 polling stations, while the results of 23 stations came in late after the presiding officers went ‘missing’ last night.
The presiding officers approached the ECP in the morning and said that they came in late because of fog.
The ECP has ordered an inquiry into presiding officers going missing and subsequent delay in results. The commission has summoned a report on the matter.
A press release issued by the commission said that the Punjab IG, commissioner, and deputy commissioner were contacted last night when the 20 presiding officers couldn’t be reached. The commissioner assured the commission that the results will be shared soon but then he became unavailable too.
The PML-N leaders have also challenged the results. They claimed the votes submitted by the electoral staff should not be counted.
The ECP had set up 360 polling stations in the constituency. According to the results of 337 stations, PML-N’s Nosheen Ifthikhar was leading with 97,588 votes, while PTI’s Ali Asjad received 94,541 votes.
PML-N MNA Shahid Khaqan Abbasi accused the government of rigging the by-polls. “They are doing this to gain more NA seats for March 3 Senate elections,” he said while speaking to the media on Saturday. “They need MNAs to support them because of which they are doing this.”
He said that 20 presiding officers went missing last night along with the votes. “People told us that the officers were taken by men in plain clothes,” he claimed. A witness said that people were not “earthly beings”.
These officers then returned at 6am and submitted the results from their polling stations. One said that he lost his glasses, another said that he couldn’t come earlier because of fog, a third person said that he slept early. “These are the reasons that they gave.”
The most interesting thing is that the results from these polling stations show 88% voter turnout. The turnout rate for by-elections is usually lower than 30%, he said. “This shows that they think that the Pakistani nation does not understand anything.”
PML-N’s Syed Nosheen Iftikhar, who was contesting the election, wrote a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner Sikander Sultan Raja and asked him to order a recount in all polling stations in Daska.
She claimed that the results of 335 polling stations came in Friday night, while the staff of 23 stations went missing. She said that a forensic audit of all Daska polling stations should be conducted.
Sialkot’s NA-75 seat fell vacant after PML-N MNA Iftikharul Hassan Shah died of a heart attack in August 2020. He was also a member of the standing committees on Interior and Narcotics Control and National Food Security and Research.
Shah was appointed MNA from the area thrice. He won the seat after securing 40,042 votes during the 2018 General Election.