Continuing to face criticism for its apparent failure to effectively act against the instances of poll rigging and an unprecedented delay in the general election results, the electoral body has announced re-polling in the polling stations of five more constituencies of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Fata (Federally Administered Tribal Areas), to be held next week.

As political parties are protesting the allegedly massive poll rigging, Election Commission of Pakistan appears to have felt the heat but only after remaining to be a subject of severe criticism by the mainstream political forces, including Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Muttahida Qaumi Movement and Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl.

“This is the height of professional incompetence on part of the ECP. This kind of attitude is simply intolerable and unforgivable,” said former ECP secretary Kanwar Dilshad. “I fail to understand why the commission made an inordinate delay in preparing the poll results. It should have been done in a day,” he said, referring to the prolonged delay in the completion of the general election results several of which are presently pending.

“This only gives credence to the reports that the results are being delayed because they are being changed and manipulated to unduly favour several candidates,” he told this correspondent.

In stark contradiction of the electoral body’s assertively repeated claims on making the voting process free of foul play with the introduction of ‘sophisticated’ techniques like thumb impression, magnetic ink and watermarks in ballot papers, the commission now seems to find it difficult to materialise its claims after the PTI demanded to ascertain the votes’ authenticity through thumb impression. Though ECP has agreed to meet this demand, it has ‘consulted’ the Nadra (National Database Registration Authority) chairman to determine if this option (verification through thumb impression) is applicable despite extensively publicising the same in the past.

“The nation has been hearing for the last couple of years that sophisticated techniques are being used in ballot papers to avoid fake voting. Where have all those techniques and tall claims gone? Everybody wants results from the ECP. If the commission cannot address the grievances of politicians and political parties, it will not be spared by the public and their political representatives,” Dilshad said.

He also questioned the introduction of the result management system (RMS) in the votes’ counting, considering that the poll results saw an inordinate delay. He said, “If this kind of technology really had used, the results would have been out in a jiffy. The so-called RMS was freshly used in the vote counting on May 11 and the results saw an unprecedented delay. That’s absolute nonsense. What’s the logic behind this absurd and ridiculous exercise?”

Kanwar Dilshad who supervised the 2002 and 2008 general elections said the election results did not take more than a day during his days as the ECP secretary. “When I was there, I made sure that the results were not delayed and public was not kept waiting,” he said. Commenting on the ECP justification that the poll results transmission from the remote areas of the country was causing the delay, the former ECP secretary said, “This is a baseless argument. Such an inordinate delay was never made in the past. Should we assume that the remote areas changed their geography in these elections?”

The PTI has identified 25 constituencies regarding poll rigging, demanding re-polling. Imran Khan on Wednesday demanded votes’ verification through thumb impression.

Meanwhile, re-polling at two and four polling stations of National Assembly constituencies, NA-269 Khuzdar and NA-41, Tribal Areas-VI, respectively, as well as four and three polling stations of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly constituencies, PK-71, Bannu-11, and PK-72, Bannu-111, respectively, will be held on May 21. Re-polling at 21 polling stations of NA-46, Tribal Areas-XI, will be held on May 25.

The Election Commission on Wednesday also ordered recounting of votes in NA-57, Attock, to be held at the district sessions court on Thursday (today). This recounting is being done on the request of PTI candidate Malik Amin Aslam.

The ECP on Tuesday announced re-polling at 43 polling stations of NA-250 and PS-112 and PS-113 in Karachi on May 19. It also ordered recounting in NA-154, Lodhran.