NA-249 Karachi bypolls- Never ending controversy of elections

 PML-N, PTI, MQM-P and PSP has boycotted the recounting process of NA-249 

The controversy that started on the night of NA-249 bypolls seems dragging on. PML-N on the election night refused to accept the results. PML-N accused PPP for tempering the results.PPP denied the allegations. 
PML-N approached the ECP to stop the announcement of official result and requested for a recounting. It was hoped that the matter will settle after the recounting. But this hope was short lived. It seems that legal battle will continue.  The matter might be decided by Supreme Court like the NA-75 Daska. 

PML-N, PTI, MQM-P and PSP has announced to boycott the recounting process today. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) ordered the recount in the constituency on the application of  PML-N candidate Dr Miftah Ismail. But today four parties announced to boycott the recounting and PML-N has submitted the application to ECP to stop the recounting. PTI is asking for a re-election in the constituency. 

The parties accused the returning officer (RO) of failing to provide the Form 45 and Form 46 and breaking the seal of the ballot bag.Speaking to the media in Karachi, PML-N candidate Miftah Ismail stated that the RO had refused to give the Form 45 and Form 46, adding that a full audit was also refused.

Unused ballots were not counted and signatures weren't shown either, he claimed. "All the parties had submitted the request together. When we asked why there was no seal on the ballot box, we were told that it might have fallen down," he said.

PTI has said in a statement  that the party had also boycotted the recount, adding that the party's candidate Amjad Iqbal Afridi had submitted his request to the Returning officer.

"We were not given the Form 46 and were given the Form 45 of only 70 polling stations," said Afridi, adding that the PTI could not be a part of the process until the provision of Form 46 and Form 45 from all polling stations.

There are hardly any election in Pakistan that end without a controversy. The political parties never accept their defeat. They never does any soul searching on the defeat of a candidate in a particular constituency. They prefer to accuse opponents, ECP or the establishment for the defeat. 

It seems that the victory of PPP candidate in  NA-249 by polls has surprised opponents. It becomes difficult for them to digest the victory of PPP and their own defeat. This appears to be the case with PML-N. PML-N was so confident of its victory that one of its leaders announced the victory on the basis of just 10% results.  

Political parties must come together to reform the election system in a way that could end the controversies. there should be no interference from any state institution or establishment in the elections. 

But at the same time, political parties also work to establish democratic culture and traditions to accept results. There should be level-playing field for the participating parties. The use of money, influence and power must not be allowed in the election process. 

There is no tradition to accept the defeat with honour. Elections are won and lost. It is part of the democratic excercise called elections. The credibility of an election depends on the transparency, fairness and orderly conduct. 

The voting process has improved a lot and becomes much more smooth and transparent. But vote count and results are still controversial. We need to take measures to improve the counting and issuing the results. Credible elections give legitimacy to elected government. Without having free, clean, fair and transparent elections, there will be hardly any credibility and democratic legitimacy of an elected government.   

The measures and steps needs to be taken to avoid the delay in the election results. The electoral reforms introduced in 2017 made the conduct of election smooth and peaceful. The allegations of rigging, tempering and fraud  undermine the credibility of elections. The vote count and release of quick results needs to be made smoother and error free. 

                                                            Khalid Bhatti 

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