ISLAMABAD - The returning officer NA-125 in his reply to Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) revealed that 40 staff members in the constituency were changed three days prior to the general election due to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf candidate’s concerns.

The ECP Friday submitted a report in the Supreme Court regarding verification of thumb impressions and a fresh vote count in the four constituencies.

Khalid Mehmood Bhatti, returning officer NA-125, Lahore, in his statement revealed that appointment of polling persons including presiding officers (POs) were made from the available staff provided by the office of district returning officer, Lahore, including personnel of different departments i.e. federal government/provincial government and autonomous bodies such as Government College University, Lahore, under the control of Higher Education Commission.

Bhatti stated that about three days before the election, Hamid Khan, a PTI candidate, visited him and expressed reservations over the appointments of presiding officers belonging to LDA and PHA.

To alleviate his (Hamid Khan) concerns and ensure impartiality and transparency, despite acute shortage of staff and the electoral exercise having reached its fag end, more than 40 presiding officers belonging to LDA and PHA and its sister organisations i.e. WASA and TEPA were replaced by the officials provided by the election cell of the district returning officer.

The Supreme Court on May 8, 2014 had directed the ECP to submit comprehensive report on PTI applications, which alleged massive fraud in the general election and called for the verification of voters’ thumb impressions with the help of the National Database Registration Authority (NADRA).

The PTI is seeking a direction for recounting of votes and verification of thumb impressions in NA-110, Sialkot, from where Khawaja Mohammad Asif, minister for defence and water and power, got elected, NA-122, Lahore, from where National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq won, NA-125, Lahore, from where Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiq was elected and NA-154, Lodhran, from where Siddiq Khan Baloch won the election.

The PTI believes that the verification of thumb impressions and a fresh vote count in the four constituencies might prove a serious blow to the PML-N.