Report to be submitted on May 15
The Election Commission of Pakistan has launched an inquiry into the disappearance of presiding officers while the votes for the NA-75 Daska by-election were being counted on February 19.
The PML-N filed a complaint after the presiding officers had gone missing. The commission has ordered re-polling in the constituency–a verdict that was upheld by the Supreme Court.
Punjab Election Commissioner Saeed Gul has been appointed inquiry officer. The fact-finding committee has given him till May 15 to prepare a report on the matter.
He has been instructed to seek the help of all institutions, and interview the presiding officers who went missing.
On March 31, The ECP presented a geo-fencing report in the top court on the missing presiding officers. The report revealed that they were all together at a suspicious place at 2am. The exact location was, however, not mentioned.
The re-polling for NA-75 Daska will be held on April 10, the Election Commission announced. Contesting candidates can submit their papers from April 8 to April 9, the notification said.
It instructed all political parties to end their campaigning 48 hours before the by-election. Those who violate the orders can be imprisoned for a maximum of two years and a fine of 100,000 will be imposed on them.
The by-election on the vacant seat was held on February 19 before the 2021 Senate Election. The results were, however, challenged by the members of the opposition. The PML-N accused the PTI of attempting to rig the elections after some presiding members ‘went missing‘ during the vote count. The officers came to the ECP on February 20 morning with the results and claimed that they left early because the fog was too dense.
The electoral body heard the case over the objections raised by the opposition members and ruled that the by-elections were neither fair nor just. The re-polling was scheduled for March 18 but postponed after the ECP’s decision was challenged in the Supreme Court by PTI’s Asjad Ali Malhi, who contested the by-election.
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.