ISLAMABAD - Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) on Saturday convened an emergency meeting ahead of announcing the much-awaited judgment on the controversy regarding alleged massive vote transfer in NA-122 by elections on Monday.
The meeting of top officials held in ECP’s headquarters was attended by the concerned Registration Officer NA-122 and representatives of National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) in a brainstorming session that longed for three hours. The ECP will announce its judgment tomorrow. In a closely contested by-election held on October 12 last year, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) candidate Ayaz Sadiq had retained NA-122 Lahore seat by defeating Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Aleem Khan with a margin of 2,443 votes.
The PTI challenged the polls results in a tribunal and ECP demanding the authorities to declare the election null and void alleging that over 28,000 votes from the constituency were transferred illegally after issuance of election schedule.
On January 20, the ECP had reserved its judgment on the alleged illegal transfer of votes in NA-122 after hearing arguments of counsels for the ruling PML-N and opposition PTI. The commission will announce the judgment on February 1.
Reliable sources in ECP told The Nation that the yesterday’s meeting, held under the chair of CEC Justice (retired) Sardar Raza Khan and attended by three members, was an extraordinary move as the head of the ECP had never convened such meeting on a holiday. “They met for hours. They pondered over the PTI’s request to get access to the record of Nadra. Some said the request should be declined on the grounds that the complainant has no solid allegations about vote transfer,” a source privy to the meeting said.
According to official sources, the PTI does not possess a single evidence of vote transfer though it alleges that 28,000 votes have been illegally transferred from NA-122. “Aleem Khan, the petitioner, wants us to unearth the fraud. This is not fair,” the source said.Salman Akram Raja, the counsel for PTI’s leader, told The Nation yesterday that it was the duty of ECP to probe the alleged transfer of thousands of votes. He acknowledged that his client has not provided any proof of vote transfer to the ECP.
A senior official in the commission said that it would have been a grave concern for the ECP if a voter had complained about his/her vote transfer without his/her consent. “But there is not a single voter available who has complained about transfer of his vote,” he added.
As the election tribunal in Lahore has rejected the allegations of PTI, the ECP is double-minded whether to reject the request of the opposition party or give a go-ahead for directing the Nadra to ascertain whether votes have really been transferred.“
If our plea is not entertained, we have other forums to challenge the decision of ECP,” lawyer Salman Akram Raja replied when asked.ECP officials who deal with transfer of votes said that it was impossible to change polling station of a voter without his/her consent. “It is a long procedure and only a voter can transfer his vote dully attested by Registration Officer,” he said.
The PTI, according to officials, was having no solid proof except asking the ECP to give it access to Nadra record under the Right to Information (RTI) law. “This clearly indicates that the petitioner has no evidence of fraud. He just wastes time of government departments and wants us to identify irregularities in NA-122 if any,” another official commented.