The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Tuesday indentified before the judicial commission, probing alleged rigging in the 2013 general elections, constituencies of key leaders of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) wherein a large number of extra ballot papers were printed other than total number of registered voters.
Similarly, former election commissioner Punjab Mahboob Anwar in his cross examination before the commission has admitted the facts presented by the PTI counsel Abdul Hafeez Pirzada regarding the printing of extra ballots in different constituencies of Punjab.
“Today, pattern of rigging has emerged,” said PTI’s chief Imran Khan, who is witnessing the tribunal’s whole proceedings regularly.
The PTI attorney has pointed out before the three-judge commission, headed by chief justice Nasirul Mulk, that 61,642 extra ballot papers were printed in NA-21 Mansehra, wherein prime minister’s son-in-law captain (retd) Muhammad Safdar was contesting the election, adding that it was 16% more than the registered voters.
Through documents, he also revealed that 62,930 extra ballot papers were printed in NA-119 (Lahore II), wherein chief minister Punjab’s son Hamza Shahbaz was contesting the polls.
In NA-125 (Lahore VII), 120,885 extra ballot papers were printed in the constituency of Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique. It is 28% more than registered voters.
In NA-78 Faisabad, 32,269 ballots were printed, which is 11% more than the registered voters. Similarly, 56m144 extra ballot papers were printed in N1-118 (Lahore-I). In NA-157 Khanewal, 65,505 extra ballots were printed.
In NA-154 Lodhran, wherein PTI’s general secretary Jahangir Tareen was contesting the elections, 30,450 extra ballot papers were printed.
During his cross examination, Mahboob Anwar stated that he had accepted all the demands of returning officers (ROs) regarding the printing of ballot papers in NA-154. “It is incorrect to suggest that I had increased the number of extra ballot papers by 15,000 in NA-154,” he further stated.
He insisted that he had not added or reduced the number of ballots which were demanded by the ROs, adding that NA-154 was among the four constituencies where Imran Khan had demanded the audit of polling votes.
The ex-election commissioner Punjab, however, contradicted his earlier statement that there was a uniform policy regarding the printing of extra ballot papers. He noted that there was no specific mention in the ECP’s direction to ROs regarding the extra ballots.
“You have earlier stated that there was uniform policy regarding the printing of ballot papers”, the PTI’s counsel reacted.
However, justice Ejaz Afzal Khan told Hafeez Pirzada that he can highlight this issue during his arguments.
Mahboob Anwar, however, rejected the ECP stance that on May 7, 2013 only 34 skilled workers were hired for the numbering and binding of the ballot papers. He stated that 78 persons were employed for this purpose and their names may be available in the ECP record.
On the query of the PTI’s counsel, he stated that he is unaware as to how long these skilled workers were in Printing Press Islamabad.
Meanwhile, Hafeez Pirzada contended that the ECP has verified most of the documents submitted by the PTI before the commission. The hearing of case is adjourned till Wednesday (today). After the court proceedings, Imran Khan while talking to the media claimed that a systematic pattern of rigging has emerged
“On average, 3% to 4% extra ballots were printed in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, however, in captain Safdar electorate, who happens to be PM’s son-in-law, 16% extra ballots were printed,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 13th, 2015.