'Delay does not mean rigging', PM says after parties decry election results

"We could afford delay, but terrorist attacks, we could not," interim Premier Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar says

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Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar addressing a press conference in Islamabad, on February 12, 2024, in this still taken from a video. — Geo News
Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar addressing a press conference in Islamabad, on February 12, 2024, in this still taken from a video. — Geo News

  • Irregularities might have happened in polls, admits PM Kakar.
  • Says next parliament will decide on use of EVMs in elections.
  • What kind of level-playing field is PTI expecting, PM on results.

Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar said Monday defended the delay in election results, noting that mobile services were disrupted — which hampered the gathering of votes — due to security threats.

"We could afford delay, but terrorist attacks, we could not [...] delay does not mean rigging," Kakar, whose government was appointed to oversee the country through elections until an elected set-up takes charge, said during a post-election press conference.

Political parties — including the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), whose candidates contested as independents, the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) — had deplored the delay in the results of the election, claiming that it was tantamount to rigging.

The complete election results — despite the passing of more than three days — are still awaited as the total vote count from 264 constituencies is in, but one seat remains. Amid the delay, PTI, JI, and JUI-F held countrywide elections, with the former two warning of more demonstrations. 

Kakar, recalling instances of election results’ delays in Sweden and Indonesia, wondered whether their polls were “rigged”. “We are a country of 240 million with 92,000 polling stations [...] this entire process had to consume some time, which should and can be explained.”

The prime minister informed the journalists that in 2018, the entire result-gathering process took 66 hours; however, in 2024, it was completed in 36 hours — however, the official Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) deadline was around nine hours. 

'PTI’s demand more imp than EU, US, UK'

Moving on to the allegations of foreign governments, who deplored the disruption in connectivity and the events that transpired in the lead-up to electrons, Kakar said they would be probed if need be.

“These friendly countries, unfortunately, frame their initial assessment on the fabricated and fractured information available on social media and the digital space.”

“A responsible government should take time and then have a position; that would have been better. If we have to investigate, we will not do it on the demand of the United States, United Kingdom, or the EU.”

Kakar noted that Pakistan has its law and will deal with it accordingly. “We did not ask a judicial inquiry on Capitol Hill riots. It is not for us to demand it and it is not for them. For me, the demand of a PTI individual than the US, UK, and EU combined.”

The premier noted that these nations have their own issues in elections, but that’s not for Pakistan to comment on, and neither should these countries issue statements on Islamabad’s domestic affairs. 

'Irregularities might have happened'

Amid the nationwide protests by different political parties and large-scale criticism of the ECP over the alleged “massive rigging” and “results tempering”, the premier said: “Irregularities might have happened but there are certain forums [to lodge complaints about it].”

Peaceful protest is people’s democratic right, he said, and warned of action against those involved in violence.

To a question, PM Kakar said that the upcoming elected parliament would decide about the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in the elections. “There should be an open discussion on EVMS.”

Two days back, expressing his annoyance over the delayed election results, President Dr Arif Alvi had said that the country would have been spared the ongoing crisis if the EVMs had been used during the February 8 general elections.

It is pertinent to mention here that the ECP’s new Election Management System (EMS) fell flat despite the commission’s tall claims.

Taking to his X handle, the president had said: “Had EVMs been there today, my dear beloved Pakistan would have been spared this crisis.”

PTI wants to get 336 seats in the House

The premier said that PTI wanted to get 336 seats in the house, which he couldn’t do. PM Kakar claimed that a level-playing field was provided to all the political parties, including the PTI.

“If a level-playing field was denied to the PTI, then how did such a large number of their supporters reach the NA,” wondered PM Kakar.

“Which kind of level playing filed were they expecting?” Referring to the countrywide protests, the premier asked: “Could I postpone the election as an individual?”

He maintained that what could he do when they did not the election results despite the deployment of army troops across the country during the elections?

“We have to end hatred and respect each other,” the premier said. “It is my desire that we take steps towards a healthy Pakistan.”