The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Saturday ordered withholding the results of the NA-249 by-poll, accepting PML-N candidate Miftah Ismail’s application for a recount.
The hearing on the plea filed by the PML-N leader, who came in second place with 15,473 votes losing to PPP's Qadir Khan Mandokhel by a slim margin of just 683 votes, will be held on May 4.
Miftah had submitted a recount application to the returning officer on the same day the provisional results were announced. However, it was dismissed by the returning officer on Saturday.
“Miftah Ismail Ahmed has now submitted an application under Section 95(6) of the Elections Act, 2017 before the commission wherein he has requested for a complete recount of the entire constituency," the ECP order read.
“The petitioner has further pointed out that there is a difference in the total votes recorded in Form-45 and Form-47. The petitioner has also submitted an application for the forensic audit of Form-45 with WhatsApp/RTS on April 30," it added.
It was also noted that the consolidation of the result had not yet been completed.
"The margin of victory is less than five per cent of the total votes polled in the constituency or 10,000 votes whichever is less in accordance with the provisions of Section 95 (5) of the (Elections) Act, the Commission is satisfied that prima facie case exists for intervention, and therefore stay the consolidation process.”
Miftah in his application complained that his party had not received results from 30 polling stations.
“We have serious concerns about the behaviour of some presiding officers, including those who got Form 45 signed before noon and certainly before 5pm,” he added.
Pointing out that signatures were missing on “many, many forms”, the PML-N leader requested the chief election commissioner to order a recount under Section 95 (6) of the Election Act, 2017.
He added that the RO was “inexplicably not following the law under Section 95 (5) of and ordering a full recount given the narrow margin”.
“We should point out that our totals are different from the Forms 45 and 47 totals given by the RO.”
According to Section 95 (5), the returning officer shall recount the votes if a candidate challenges the results with a request. For the request to be valid, the margin of victory must be "less than 5% of the total votes polled in the constituency or 10,000 votes, whichever is less".
As the election commission declared the PPP victorious in the NA-249 Karachi by-poll a day earlier, its chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said one arrow -- his party's election symbol -- had hunted down several targets including a lion.
In response, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz, rejected the results, saying it was not easy to hunt down a lion, which is the election symbol of her party.
The ruling PTI, whose lawmaker Faisal Vawda had vacated the seat in the wake of his election to the Senate, also said it would challenge the results.
According to the ECP, PPP candidate Mandokhel secured 16,156 votes against 15,473 bagged by PML-N's Miftah.
Surprisingly, the now proscribed Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) stood third as its candidate Allama Nazir Ahmed secured 11,125 votes.
The results further stated that the Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) candidate Mustafa Kamal bagged 9,227 votes.
The PTI, which had won the seat in the last general elections, came fifth in the race.
Amjad Afridi could manage only 8,922 votes. The seat was last held by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) candidate Muhammad Mursaleen, who now received 7,511 votes.
The results also stated that the voter turnout remained 21.61% in the constituency and the total votes cast were 73,471 out of 339,591 votes registered in the area.