ISLAMABAD: In an unusually quick display of “efficiency”, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday gave a clean chit to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in its investigation into alleged rigging at a polling station in the NA-68 constituency of the National Assembly, which the primer won in the last year’s general elections.
The election commission denied any foul play at the polling station on the election day. Apparently downplaying irregularities in the voting record of polling station number 246 of NA-68 Sargodha-V, terming them mere “typo”, the ECP wrapped up the matter, absolving the prime minister of any blame. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif won the National Assembly seat in question in the general polls, but later vacated it. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) challenged the voting results of the polling station, claming that the total number of registered voters at the polling station was 1,510, while 8,176 votes were polled at it, of which 7,829 went to Nawaz Sharif.
More than a year after the general polls, the ECP on Tuesday announced to probe the voting record of the polling station, but only after political parties expressed lack of trust in the commission. “It was just a typing mistake that created a numerical difference of 7,000 votes,” ECP Additional Secretary Syed Sher Afgan told journalists on Wednesday. “The mistake has been corrected and everything is fine now.” Sher Afgan said PM Nawaz Sharif won the NA seat by a margin of more than 95,000 votes, while securing over 140,000 votes.
“The difference of 7,000 votes does not make any difference as far as this huge victory margin is concerned.” Sardar Shafqat Hayat, who won from NA-68 Sargodha-V in the by-polls, bagged 68,000 votes. “Less number of people are inclined to vote in the by-polls,” Sher Afgan said. The commission’s decision on NA-68 attracted enormous criticism. “This is another addition to the ECP’s unending list of follies and blunders,” commented former ECP secretary Kanwar Dilshad on the development. “I really doubt if the ECP can ever be so efficient to complete an electoral probe just in a day,” he told Daily Times. “The ECP kept on sleeping for one good year and all of sudden it discovered that a typo compromised the election results at a polling station. What a joke!” he remarked.
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