When the results for NA-256 (Karachi) came in from the National Database Registration Authority, the suspicions of those who already viewed the national voting system as incompetent and dishonest, were simply proven right. The result revealed a massive deal of rigging when the reports of the thumbprint verification of NA-256 were shown. Despite the great amount of rigging , the results were taken as authentic and transparent, and MQM candidate Iqbal Muhammad Khan ‘won’ the seat. According to the report, 84,748 votes were cast in the constituency on May 11 while a whopping 11,343 ballot papers consisted of invalid Computerized National Identity Card numbers. Those numbers were never issued by the registration authority.
The report further stated that 5,839 duplicate votes were found while one voter cast his vote seven times. Furthermore, 314 ballot papers did not contain thumb impressions to begin with. About 6,000 votes were successfully authenticated but 57,642 votes carried "poor quality of thumbprints" which rendered their accuracy questionable. In addition to this mess, 1,950 ballots CNIC numbers did not match with the CNIC mentioned on the counterfoil. These details bear mentioning due to the fact that rival party PTI in NA-256 lodged its complaint and distrust prior to the election itself; PTI members stated that they already sensed insincerity in the system and would not be surprised if the results were unfair.
PTI chairman Imran Khan addressed a press conference on Tuesday and said, “Democracy will not prevail until and unless free and fair elections are carried out. Dictators carry out such elections. How can people involved in the rigging become clean in the Assembly?” Political contentions between various parties aside, Khan’s reservations are not only relevant to other constituencies throughout Pakistan, but also important in the general process of elections that is viewed as a redundant by most citizens.
Negligence shown by polling officers and staff in verifying votes as well as corruption during election season is nothing new in Pakistan; NA-256’s case is not the first, and it may not be the last, unfortunately. The massive irregularities and violations of election laws detected by NADRA should compel the government to hold a re-election in the same constituency so that the mandate of the people can be protected from nefarious agendas. Such instances of dishonesty only discourages healthy citizenship and participation in national politics. Let this be an opportunity to set things straight.