ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) on Tuesday blamed media for its electoral defeat in NA-122. Its members argued that electronic media tilted towards Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) during the by-polls seeking code of conduct for broadcast media. PTI’s MNA Shafqat Mahmood complained during meeting of Sub-Committee on Electoral Reforms, saying media outlets in the country aired polls results in advance by favouring the rival candidate in NA-122 Ayaz Sadiq.

The PTI lawmaker argued that Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was the only legitimate and constitutional body that could announce polls results. He pointed his fingers at ECP for keeping mum on the violation on part of media. “The result would have been different in NA-122 had the media not aired poll results in advance. There must be some rules for media to follow during reporting of election,” the lawmaker said. Sources privy to the meeting said the committee could not discuss the items on agenda pertaining to electoral reforms as PTI lawmakers were obsessed with NA-122 by-polls. “PTI lawmakers were angry today. They complained about biased role of media in NA-122,” Jamaat Islami (JI) MNA Sahibzada Tariqullah told The Nation.

MNA Shafqat Mahmood told The Nation that some media channels showed PML-N leading by margin of 10,000 votes while some said that the contest in NA-122 was neck-and-neck. “It means the TV channels were airing different results. For viewers it was confusing as to which channels should be believed. I raised concerns that media should be strictly advised to air what ECP says,” the lawmaker said. He said ECP officials too said that code of conduct for media existed but were not implemented in letter and spirit. “We want PEMRA to strictly direct television channels not to air poll result in advance. The source should be ECP only,” he said.

The electoral reforms committee was requested by PTI lawmakers that Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) should intervene and take notice of the advance poll results aired by television channels. They also proposed that PEMRA should devise guidelines to media channels during reporting of election and should forbid media outlets from airing beforehand results. The ECP’s officers present on the occasion said journalists air results of each polling station which has been a precedence of the past too. “How can we stop media channels from airing results of election?” ECP official said.

The committee also discussed giving right of vote to overseas Pakistanis, however, like the past, no tangible solution was agreed upon as election authorities said the exercise will require lot of money and human resource. Despite that it is the 36th meeting of the sub-committee on electoral reforms, the cross party lawmakers still have not come up with solid suggestions and proposals to reform the existing electoral system. Some opposition members from PPP according to sources raised objections over the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) for not being sincere to contribute to the reforms while ECP too was under fire for seeking excuses to give right of vote to Pakistanis abroad.