The PML-N on Thursday demanded of the country’s top electoral body – Election Commission of Pakistan – to implement three things in order to ensure fairness in the poll process, apparently to mitigate the risk of rigging.
“Basing on their [ECP] previous election experience, we will keep their focus on three things of the election process in particular,” PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah said while addressing a press conference in Lahore.
Firstly, he said that no unauthorised person should be given access inside the polling station, other than what the law permits. He added that the polling agents had also been communicated the same message of barring unofficial people’s entry to polling stations. Furthermore, he urged the ECP to ensure that counting of votes takes place in front of their polling agents. “The practice of sending polling station out of the room during the vote counts should not be repeated,” Sanaullah said.
Secondly, the PML-N leader said presiding officers should not leave the polling station without providing a copy of Form 45 to the polling agent, adding that they would not accept vote count from presiding officer on a chit. “If our polling agents are sent out of the room or the presiding officer leaves without handing over the Form 45 then there will be consequences for which only the ECP will be responsible.”
The PML-N’s third demand was for the punctuality of presiding officer and the ballot box to the Returning Officer. Recalling a purported incident of 2018 election, he said that a presiding officer went missing with the ballot box and was found at 3 pm the next day. He alleged that the presiding officer only had a result of 1,300 votes, if only he had 3,000-4,000 votes in the ballot box, the poll result would have been different.
Sanaullah, the former Punjab law minister, stressed that the three demands should be met for ensuring a transparent election. “The chief election commissioner should not only ensure implementation of these three things in letter and spirit but also monitor the election process in these two constituencies, NA 75 Sialkot Daska, PP 51 Gujranwala Wazirabad, personally,” he added.
Compared to a recent by-election in Karachi, he said the party had also asked their members not to carry armed guards with them, as Leader of Opposition in Sindh Assembly Haleem Adil Sheikh did.
To a question regarding the observation of court in the second ballot case, Sanaullah said that it would be wrong to assert that the observation coming in the case were not concerning for us. “Article 226 of Constitution is very unambiguous, which calls for a secret ballot. Only parliament has the power to amend it,” he said.
Such a matter should have only been resolved in the august house, the PML-N leader said, adding: “If an open ballot is to be done then parties should be allowed to nominate senators in accordance of their strength as is done in reserved woman seats in the NA.”
He alleged the government had only brought such an amendment to expose the opposition, and they have confessed it too. “Bringing forward old videos was only made to sway the SC,” he said, adding that the PTI could have brought it before the parliamentary committee.
To another query, he said that law enforcement agencies have no place inside the polling station, their duty is to secure the venue.