Thursday, July 21, 2022

ECP dismisses PTI plea seeking recount of votes in PP-7

ECP says PTI candidate failed to prove rigging in PP-7 by-election; Khan slams commission, calls it "non-credible"

Election Commission of Pakistan building. — Facebook
Election Commission of Pakistan building. — Facebook

  • ECP says PTI candidate failed to prove rigging in PP-7 by-election.
  • “Petitioner also failed to prove the need to recount votes,” ECP says.
  • PML-N candidate emerged victorious from PP-7.

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Thursday dismissed the PTI plea seeking a recount of votes in the PP-7 Rawalpindi by-election, saying the party failed to prove rigging.

PTI candidate Shabbir Awan filed approached the ECP seeking a recount of votes for the constituency as he claimed that the polling witnessed rigging.

A five-member ECP bench — led by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja and including Nisar Ahmed Durrani, Shah Muhammad Jatoi, Babar Hassan Bharwana, and retired Justice Ikramullah Khan — heard the plea.

“The petitioner could not prove rigging [...] he also failed to prove the need to recount votes,” the five-member ECP bench said as it announced the verdict.

PTI candidate Awan's plea for a recount of votes was rejected by the returning officer (RO) of the constituency a day earlier as well, but on the same day, the LHC Rawalpindi bench ordered the ECP to stop the issuance of results and resolve the matter first.

PML-N candidate Raja Sagheer Ahmed emerged victorious from the constituency by a thin margin of 49 votes in the Punjab by-polls held on July 17, as per unofficial results.

PML-N's Ahmed had won the seat with 68,906 votes, whereas PTI’s Awan managed to bag 68,857 votes.

Following the narrow margin of defeat, the PTI candidate decided to challenge the results and filed an application for a recount of votes in the constituency.

During the Punjab by-polls on July 17, PTI won at least 15 out of 20 constituencies, while PML-N only clinched victory in four. An independent candidate also managed to get one seat.

'Non-credible ECP'

PTI Chairman Imran Khan said the "imported government", brought in by "US regime change conspiracy"  first tried to rig Punjab by-elections through government and state machinery.

The former prime minister alleged that in the government's quest, CEC  Raja — who is heading a "non-credible ECP" — also supported it.

Now, the "kings of crime", PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, having gotten their "NRO 2" are using their salvaged looted money to purchase Punjab MPAs making a mockery of laws and desecrating the constitution, Khan alleged.

The PTI chairman then called on the people across Pakistan to hold protests and said that he will address them at 9pm.

In response, PTI leader Shafqat Mahmood said that the election commission’s decision 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,” the former federal education minister said.