After a frenzied polling day tumult, a jubilant Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) has emerged as the clear winner; however the polling process itself has been called into serious question.
The counting and transmission of the results has been marred with discrepancies and criticisms, voiced by a wide gamut of contesting political parties. Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz (PML-N) president Shehbaz Sharif has gone as far as to outright reject the poll results claiming ‘manifest and massive irregularities’. Similar claims of rigging have been echoed by Jibran Nasir and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto, highlighting the delay in receiving official results, slow-polling tactics, non-issuance of ‘form 45’ in many constituencies, and maltreatment of polling agents at polling stations across the country.
Where the ECP has conceded the glitches in the Result Transmission System (RTS) process as well as the overall polling procedure, it also affirms following through in investigating the ensuing complaints.
While the allegations of rigging and foul play may ultimately be disavowed, breaking away from the winning party’s usual bravado and rhetoric, Imran Khan’s promise, that his government will fully cooperate in investigating the rigging claims, is exactly the kind of measure needed to diffuse tensions and avert protests. It was the refusal of the PML-N government to open itself to further verification that became the prime cause for the infamous dharna; it is good to see Imran Khan appreciating the role reversal and not making the same mistakes.
While the new government must now ensure that it doesn’t stonewall inquires or dismisses requests for additional information without any reason, the parties claiming rigging also have a responsibility. The onus lies on all parties to provide evidence of rigging over simple accusations. The opposition must appreciate the role reversal too – once they were the one asking for hard evidence.