Marriyum Aurangzeb demands ECP to hold NA-249 by-election results for time being

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LAHORE  , May 2  :  Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb on Sunday has demanded the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold the results of National Assembly constituency NA-249 by-elections for the time being.

In a statement, the PML-N leader asked the commission to ensure the political parties that the bags of votes are still unsealed. We are suspicious that the election record can be tampered, she added.

Earlier, Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) had released a report on the NA-249 by-elections in Karachi and witnessed a substantial decline in voter turnout, mainly due to the hot weather and Ramzan.

ECP ensured strict compliance to the COVID-19 standard operating procedures. Despite a competitive campaign, the poll recorded a turnout of 21.6 percent of registered voters—dropping from 40 percent reported for the constituency during General Elections 2018.

Observers representing the FAFEN asked voters how satisfied they were with the voting process. Voters outside 98 polling stations—18 men’s, 17 women’s, and 53 combined—expressed their satisfaction. In contrast, voters outside the remaining polling stations said they were partially satisfied.

The observers found election material in enough quantities at all of the observed polling stations. Except for two incidents of unauthorized individuals going behind the secrecy screens at two polling stations, there were no other incidents that compromised voters’ secrecy. Except for two cases, the observers did not see party workers persuading voters inside the polling stations.

On Election Day, FAFEN’s trained citizen observers reported 143 violations, of which 55 related to the presence of party camps in the polling stations’ surroundings. In 11 instances, the polling staff did not allow voters to cast votes and sent them back. At 19 polling stations, the observers saw the COVID-19 SOPs not implemented at all. The other 58 instances of violations pertained to procedural irregularities, mainly in voting and counting processes. On average, the observers reported 1.3 violations per polling station.

Twelve political parties fielded their candidates in the NA-249 by-election while 18 candidates contested independently. The winning candidate secured 22 percent (16,156) of the polled votes (73,471).