The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) stopped the Returning Officer (RO) on Sunday from issuing the final notification for election results of NA-47 and NA-48 Islamabad after PTI-backed candidates Shoaib Shaheen and Ali Bukhari challenged them.
The ECP also halted final results for PK-79 and PK-82, following challenges from Taimur Saleem Jhagra and Kamran Bangash – also PTI-backed candidates.
Similarly, objections have been raised for PK-73 and PK-80, leading the electoral watchdog to stop the ROs from announcing final results in these constituencies.
PTI’s Shaheen and Bukhari had filed petitions in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) as well a day earlier.
Today, a four-member bench, under the leadership of Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja conducted a hearing over allegations of manipulation in the NA-48 results.
Bukhari arrived at the ECP office accompanied by several lawyers. He provided the ECP with the record of Form 45 for all NA-48 polling stations, along with separate data from Form 45 in data devices.
He is seeking relief under Section 8 of the Election Act, asserting his success according to Form 45. The PTI-affiliated candidate has complained that the RO did not grant access to the final results before the official announcement.
According to Election Act sections 92 and 95, the presence of the candidate is deemed necessary at the time of the announcement of the final results. Therefore, Bukhari has requested a recount according to Form 45.
Bukhari told the ECP that despite their request, the RO issued Form 47. He emphasised that Form 45 was not exclusive to him but was available to all candidates.
The PTI candidate appealed that his significant lead of 50,000 votes was nullified. He requested for a re-count to be done in the presence of media representatives and other candidates.
Following the hearing, the ECP issued notices to Raja Khurram Nawaz, earlier announced as the successful candidate from NA-48.
Yesterday, speaking to the media outside the IHC, Shoaib Shaheen said, ” Ali and I have filed petitions. We have requested the registrar’s office to schedule an immediate hearing. We urge the chief justice to expedite the case since all of Islamabad knows that NA-47 is my constituency. I have the Form-45. We have won this election with a significant majority.”
The PTI-backed independent candidate blamed the powers that be for “pressuring the returning officers.” He further added, “Today, you are replaying the crime you committed in the past. Now the only hope left is the judiciary.”
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According to the results announced a day earlier, independent candidate Raja Khuram Shehzad Nawaz won the election for NA-48 Islamabad-III by securing 69,699 votes.
However, Bukhari claims he was winning the contest according to initial results. He was later announced as the runner-up candidate after receiving 59,851 votes.
Shaheen, addressing the media a day after the February 8 elections, slammed NA-47 results where PML-N’s Tariq Fazal Chaudhry was declared victorious.
Expressing concerns about “injustice and oppression against the PTI”, he claimed that the nomination papers were unjustly taken away, accusing the Returning Officers (RO) of being “experts in corruption”.
Shaheen stated, “They took away our bat [PTI’s electoral symbol]” as he blamed the Supreme Court for the ongoing injustice and tyranny. The PTI-backed candidate asserted, “I had a lead of more than 50,000 votes, my opponents had a total of 40,000 votes polled.”
“My votes were added to Tariq’s vote list,” he alleged.
The PTI candidate said he approached the DCO and the Election Commission by writing applications but received no response. He pointed out that every candidate was supposed to be given Form 45. In questioning the democratic process, he rhetorically asked, “If you don’t like someone, will you change their vote?”
“I wasn’t behind Tariq in any of the polling station results,” stated Shaheen, blaming the ECP for the “indecent” conduct of the election. He also mentioned his willingness to address any reservations against him with the RO.
“There was no need to spend billions. You should have just announced that the ladla (favourite) [PML-N’s Nawaz Sharif] is coming into power,” Shaheen stated.
Accusing the authorities of “undermining the foundations” and “causing harm to the state”, Shaheen declared his intent to “protest and challenge the result”. “The people are being denied their basic rights,” he said, emphasising that “today’s war is not for power but for the survival of the people”.
Furthermore, he mentioned, “We had the complete results by 11 PM and we will go to the court to challenge this dishonesty”. He claimed that “there has been a change of over 50,000 votes”.