ISLAMABAD: Feeling the heat from the political parties who have been demanding its dissolution, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) looks to have yielded to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s demand and ordered a “probe” into alleged poll-rigging at a single polling station of a National Assembly seat which Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif won in the general elections last year.
The development, however, does not seem to have moved the political parties, while it has caught the federal government with surprise. Questions are being raised regarding the ECP’s motives to wake up to the alleged poll rigging one year after the general elections. According to reports, following a top-level meeting chaired by Acting Chief Election Commissioner Justice Nasirul Mulk on Tuesday, the ECP ordered the Provincial Election Commission (PEC) of Punjab to get detailed voting record of a single polling station of NA-68 Sargodha-V, on the PTI’s application, which alleged that the number of votes cast in the polling station exceeded the total number of registered voters in the constituency.
Prime Minister Nawaz won the National Assembly seat in the last year’s general elections and vacated it, as he retained NA-120 Lahore-III. The seat of NA-68 Sargodha-III is presently held by Sardar Shafqat Hayat from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. The PTI alleges that the total number of registered voters at the polling station number 246 of the NA constituency was 1,510, while 8,176 votes were polled at it, with 7,829 of them to Nawaz Sharif.
Reacting to the ECP decision to take “notice” of the alleged poll rigging, PM’s spokesman and Information Minister Senator Pervaiz Rashid said, “It is extremely strange that the ECP has ordered a probe at a polling station of an NA constituency more than a year after the general elections took place. We believe this decision is directly linked to the opposition the PTI and other political parties have voiced against the ECP.”
Prime Minister Nawaz, according to the minister, won the NA-68 seat with a heavy margin. “I fail to understand how probing the voting record of one polling station can make a difference when our party won majority of the NA seats with a thumping margin,” he told Daily Times, when approached on Tuesday.
The information minister urged the ECP to “sort out its issues with the political parties instead of resorting to face-saving exercise at the expense of PML-N.” The PTI also rejected the ECP’s decision. “We are not impressed with peanuts. This is nothing but a skin-saving measure,” said PTI’s Chief Election Commissioner Hamid Khan.
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