AJK polls: Tribunal formed to address complaints

Election commission spokesperson claims they have received no complaints of any irregularities in polling.


June 30, 2011

MIRPUR:


The AJK Election Commission formed a tribunal to address what it expects will be many complaints by candidates relating to the June 26 Legislative Assembly polls, even as it denied charges of rigging in the polls.


A spokesperson for the election commission said that the tribunal would be a faster mechanism for dealing with petitions likely to be filed by many of the losing candidates. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has already begun filing cases alleging rigging in the AJK elections and the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) is reportedly considering a similar move.

However, even as it formed the tribunal, the Election Commission spokesperson denied that they had been involved in any vote rigging.“No incident of casting fake votes or any unlawful use of influence upon the polling staff was reported in any of the constituencies,” the spokesman said.

Several media outlets reported that there were significant irregularities in voting as well as pre-election campaigning, with several officials reported to be violating the law. It is unclear if any of those alleged violations were ever reported to the AJK Election Commission.

One of the key complaints about the election was the allegation that the voter list contained several bogus or fake entries. The spokesperson admitted that while there had initially been some problems, they had been addressed by the commission.

“The voter lists were prepared by the staff of the AJK Revenue Department as the Election Commission did not have sufficient staff to accomplish the task,” said the spokesman. “The AJK Chief Election Commissioner took immediate notice of the errors in the voter lists as pointed out by the media and got them rectified on a priority basis.”

The spokesperson also claimed that the requirement for a computerised national identity card as the only acceptable form of identification was strictly enforced throughout all polling stations.

The day of the election was marred by violence as political activists from various parties clashed with each other and government officials. In Lahore, activists from the PML-N fought with those from the PPP, leading to violence that eventually led to elections being postponed  in the district.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 30th, 2011.

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