The ECP has issued a stay order, withholding results of the by-poll after accepting PML-N candidate Miftah Ismail’s request for a recount of votes of the Karachi-West NA-249 by-election.
Ismail had written a letter to the chief election commissioner seeking a vote recount in NA-249 and the PML-N had also requested a forensic audit of the votes as well.
Ismail has alleged that presiding officers from 34 polling stations did not WhatsApp the results.
According to a notification by the ECP the hearing will be held on May 4. Notices have been sent to all respondents.
Ismail said that the party “did not receive results from more than 30 polling stations”.
“We have serious concerns about the behaviour of some presiding officers,” he added.
He also claimed that many Form 45s were not signed and vote count on the forms given to the party is different from the forms issued by the returning officer (RO).
He further claimed in the letter that the RO did not provide the polling stations wise result summary to the party nor was a receipt of the time the results received via WhatsApp.
Citing these concerns, Ismail asked the CEC to stop the ECP from announcing final results and approve a recount of votes in all polling stations of NA-249.
As per the rules of the Election Act, if the differential between the winning candidate and runner-up is less that 5 per cent of total votes polled, a recount is allowed. In the case of NA-249, with PPP leading by only 683 votes from a total of 72,740, the margin is much below the required 5 per cent.
According to provisional results, PPP’s Qadir Khan Mandokhail secured 16,156 votes to win the election while Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) Miftah Ismail came in second with 15,473 votes, followed by the candidate from the recently banned Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), Mufti Nazeer Ahmed Kamalvi, who secured 11,125 votes. Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) chairman Syed Mustafa Kamal was at fourth place with 9,227 votes, followed by PTI’s Amjad Afridi with 8,922 votes.
Counting started after polling ended on Thursday at 276 polling stations comprising 796 polling booths which were established in the constituency. The voting process began at 8:00 am and continued till 5:00 pm without any pause.
The NA seat was created in 2018 by amalgamating neighbourhoods that previously fell in two Upper House constituencies — NA-239 and NA-240 — during three general elections between 2002 and 2013.
The constituency, with 339,591 registered voters, has emerged to be a highly contested seat with candidates belonging to almost every major political party fighting for it.
PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz has hinted at challenging the by-elections results of the NA-249 constituency in Karachi where PPP candidate won the polls.
She slammed the political opponents in a Twitter message, saying that the tactics to defeat her political party will be exposed soon. The PML-N VP threatened that the lion could not be hunted down so easily, adding that they should remember it and wait for the response. She said that PML-N will take back the right of the citizens.
Maryam said that the political party will accept defeat if it is the decision of the citizens. Maryam Nawaz added that PML-N will fight against every decision taken by stealing ballot boxes and vote-rigging. ‘Make no mistake about it.’