Commission confirms irregularities in NA-122

  • Report finds ballot bags with broken seals, invalid votes and different coloured ballot papers
  • Tribunal judge says will probe report’s findings and then take action against alleged riggers

The inspection judge of a local commission probing irregularities in the NA-122 constituency of Lahore on Saturday informed the election tribunal judge that the polling staff had indeed committed irregularities during the 2013 general election.

Ghulam Hussain Awan recorded his statement on Saturday before Election Tribunal Judge Kazim Ali Malik regarding irregularities in NA-122, which is one of the four constituencies where the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had sought a recount and verification of voters’ thumb impressions. National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq had defeated PTI Chairman Imran Khan in the 2013 general elections from NA-122 and the party had challenged the results.

Awan also submitted ballot bags with broken seals along with invalid votes and different coloured ballot papers with his report. Justice Malik said that he would personally inspect the NA-122 ballots and form a decision based on the commission’s findings.

“Action against rigging in NA-122 will be taken in accordance with the law,” he said.

The tribunal judge also summoned 150 witnesses on January 31, the names of whom were submitted by Sadiq’s lawyer in the court on Saturday. The witnesses will provide evidence on the fact that rigging did not take place in the constituency.

Previously, the commission which was tasked to inspect the record of the NA-122 constituency submitted its report to the election tribunal earlier this week. The commission was directed to de-seal/open polling bags to check whether they had been closed with a proper seal or with a broken or damaged seal. It was also required to check the number of polled ballots which did not bear the stamp and signature of a presiding officer or an assistant presiding officer.

According to the 42-page report, the commission found 180,115 verified votes and 23,639 without signature/ stamp of the authorised polling staff. It declared that 3,642 votes were invalid or rejected.

The report said Sadiq obtained 92,393 votes whereas Khan received 83,542 votes. The remaining 4,180 votes went to other candidates.

It further revealed that 806 votes in Form-14 did not match the counterfoils. Based on these findings, the commission submitted a report to the tribunal on Saturday.

Federal Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid had previously claimed that victory margin of Ayaz Sadiq has ‘increased’ after a vote recount in Lahore’s NA-122 constituency.

Making a counter-claim, PTI said that ‘polling fraud has been exposed’ after the vote recount, and urged the National Assembly to ‘prepare resignation’ of the speaker.

Khan files petition in tribunal:

Imran Khan filed an application in the election tribunal, alleging that two different coloured ballot papers were obtained from 34 polling stations after an inspection.

The petition requested the tribunal to conduct an investigation into the matter.

Accepting the application for hearing, the tribunal will take up the matter on Jan 31.