Election 2013: Results Manipulated in Punjab and KP - PPPP
ISLAMABAD: In a surprising development, the Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) expressed reservations on Thursday over the outcome of the 2013 general elections and said the results were manipulated not only in Punjab but also in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The contents of an application moved by the PPPP were made known to Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, representing the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, at the fag-end of Thursday’s proceedings by a three-judge poll inquiry commission headed by Chief Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk.
The counsel was asked by the commission to get instructions from his client since the mover intended to examine witnesses in relation to the elections held in Punjab and KP.
The PTI enjoys a majority in the KP Assembly and has formed the government under Chief Minister Pervez Khattak. “Since certain allegations regarding the election results in KP have been levelled, Mr Pirzada may get proper instructions from his client (PTI),” the chief justice observed.
The commission asked its office to provide copies of the application to Mr Pirzada.
Legal observers monitoring the proceedings of the commission investigating allegations of ‘widespread and systematic rigging’ in the last elections were taken aback over the latest move because the PPPP had earlier told the commission that it would rely on the witnesses and evidence produced by the PTI.
The election results were a shocking surprise, especially in Punjab and KP where returning officers (ROs) and presiding officers (POs) were used to subvert the results, the application signed by Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan claimed. In fact it answers the questions earlier asked by the commission.
The PPPP explained that it was primarily a duty of the commission to answer who had manipulated the results because it had to carry the burden of discovering the plan or design and its authors even if no party were to answer these questions.
The party alleged that the plan had been prepared to make it lose the elections in Punjab and KP. The identity of the planners will surely be revealed by inspection of the election record available with the Election Commission of Pakistan.
The PPPP claimed that systematic efforts had been made to manipulate the results of both the national and provincial assemblies.
CROSS-EXAMINATION: ECP’s former secretary Ishtiak Ahmad Khan was cross-examined by Mr Pirzada.
Mr Khan said that under ECP’s instructions, presiding officers were required to provide carbon copies of Form-15 to the respective polling agents on the polling day.
The form accounts for the record of ballot papers used, unused and discarded.
But, he said the presiding officers were not required to dispatch the Form-15 to the ECP because it went into the election bag containing the election materials that were later sealed. The sealed bags were then kept in district treasuries under the custody of the ECP because the commission’s central office in Islamabad did not have any suitable storage arrangement.
Ishtiak Khan, who served as the ECP secretary from Sept 15, 2009 to Sept 4, 2014, during which he resigned twice but was called back to continue by extending his tenure thrice, informed the commission that the returning officers were required to send to the ECP Forms 16 and 17 relating to the consolidation of poll results and their notification, respectively.
Mr Pirzada referred to Section 44 of the Representation of People’s Act 1976 under which ROs were required to send everything to the ECP and asked the former secretary if he had taken any action against the ROs who had failed to do so.
Mr Khan said it was up to the ECP to take action against such ROs. He was not aware of any complaint against any RO about consolidation of results without issuing notices to the contesting candidates. He was also not aware of the decision of the provincial election commissioner about how many ballot papers were to be printed for each constituency of Balochistan.
During the proceedings, the commission disallowed a video clip of a press conference held by then chairman of National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) Tariq Malik on Oct 9, 2013, in which he conceded that magnetic ink had not been used in NA-256 and NA-258 constituencies. Ishtiak Khan was sitting with Mr Malik.
“That statement is not relevant to confront the witness unless the former chairman himself came as a witness,” the chief justice said.
Mr Khan explained that the decision to use magnetic ink had been taken by the ECP at a meeting also attended by representatives of Nadra and PCSIR (Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research) to develop a system whereby Nadra could be able to verify thumb impressions on the counterfoil of ballot papers as well as electoral rolls.
Arshad Hakeem, the then chairman of Nadra, had recommended to the ECP the ingredients of magnetic ink the sample of which was sent to the PCSIR and at another meeting held later the final ingredients of ink pads were finalised and prepared by the PCSIR.
Mr Khan informed the commission that no specific criteria, rationale or condition had been laid down by the ECP for the exercise of discretion by ROs in working out the exact requirement of the ballot papers that needed to be printed for each constituency by printing presses.
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