Post-poll rigging plunges Pakistan into even deeper crisis

Developing Just Leadership

Crescent International

Rajab 29, 1445 2024-02-10

Daily News Analysis

by Crescent International

Shameless would be too polite a word to describe the manner in which the election results are being overturned in Pakistan.

Despite facing massive hurdles, the people of Pakistan came out in droves to vote for Imran Khan-backed candidates on February 8.

The turnout was so huge that hundreds of thousands of people were still waiting in the line to cast their ballot after the cut-off time of 5 pm.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) refused to extend the time period because the army wanted to suppress voter turnout.

Pakistan’s real decision-makers are the generals who think they are the masters of the country.

Even so, the turnout surpassed 70 percent.

In the Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa province (KPK), it touched 80 to 85 percent.

Pakistani youth and women also came out in large numbers, another first in its history.

As election results started to trickle in around 10 pm, it was clear that PTI-backed “independent” candidates were winning by huge margins.

This is not what the army had anticipated.

Days prior to the date of elections, their paid agents in the media, especially the electronic media, were pushing the narrative that PTI candidates would garner at most 40-50 seats in the national assembly.

This was based on the assumption that since PTI had been denied its traditional (cricket) bat symbol, voters would be confused.

Its candidates were allotted different symbols, adding to much confusion.

Thanks to PTI’s electronic warriors, they quickly spread the news about each candidate’s election symbol.

Much to their credit, this information was even communicated to the largely illiterate rural voters.

The result was astounding.

By midnight, it became clear that “independent” candidates had won more than 150 seats in the 266-seat national assembly.

The trend was consistent. The PTI-backed candidates would grab more than two-thirds majority in the national assembly.

The PTI had already won a two-thirds majority in the KP province.

It was also on its way to getting a comfortable majority in Punjab.

How the election results are announced is important to understand.

Each constituency has hundreds of polling stations.

At every polling station, each candidate’s polling agent is present.

When the vote counting is completed—the law requires that results must be declared latest by 2 am the following day (February 9)—the presiding officer is required to hand over Form 45 to the winning candidate.

It is signed and stamped by the presiding officer.

When all Form 45s are collected, the results are communicated to the Returning Officer (RO) who then announces the winner of that constituency.

The Election Commission posts these results on its website on what is called Form 47.

It was based on the Form 45s in the hands of PTI candidates that they made the announcement of their victory.

Even the army-backed electronic media was reporting these results.

At this stage, election result announcements were suddenly suspended.

Election fraud began in high gear.

The army high command had set up a special cell under the supervision of the air command to monitor elections.

The Military Intelligence (MI), a separate intelligence branch from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), was tasked with providing instant information.

By midnight, panic had set in. Things were not going according to plan.

There was a hurried meeting called in the army chief Asim Munir’s house.

The Election Commissioner, Sikandar Sultan Raja was also called to launch the rigging process.

Some examples of rigging would illustrate the point.

In Lahore, Nawaz Sharif, the former three-time prime minister who gained notoriety for corruption, was trailing behind PTI candidate Dr Yasmeen Rashid by more than 30,000 votes.

Yet, miraculously, the next day, Sharif was declared the “winner”.

It was just as farcical in Mansehra where Sharif lost to the PTI candidate Shehzada Gushtasaf Khan by 105,875 to 85,000 votes.

This was announced by the Election Commission on its website based on Form 47.

The following morning, however, the figures were reversed!

It was the same story in Sialkot where Rehana Dar, an elderly grandmother, stepped in when her son Usman Dar was prevented from running.

She faced Khawaja Asif of Nawaz Sharif’s party, Pakistan Muslim League (N).

Rehana Dar’s lead was more than 50,000 but it was reversed in Khawaja Asif’s favour.

Hamid Mir, a Geo News anchor quipped that Nawaz Sharif got more votes on February 9 than he did on February 8 (the day of election)!

PTI leaders have announced that they will challenge these fraudulent results in court.

Nawaz Sharif meanwhile made a victory speech despite getting a mere 30 seats in parliament.

“No Pakistani will accept this,” Imran said in an AI-generated speech.

“International media is also writing about that stupidity.”

Similar concerns have been expressed by a number of western officials including the US

State Department, several members of Congress, the EU Foreign Policy chief as well as the British Foreign Secretary.

They have all called for an independent investigation into allegations of vote fraud.

The ultimate decision, however, would be made by the people of Pakistan.

In one particular instance, in Lakki Marwat (KP province), where Sher Afzal Marwat was the PTI candidate, he found out that ballot boxes had arrived at the local police station.

It is not the job of the police to handle ballot boxes.

Sher Afzal Marwat arrived at the police station accompanied by armed followers.

He called on the senior police officer to hand over the ballot boxes.

The police officer offered to negotiation.

Marwat told him there was nothing to negotiation.

His demand was simple: hand over the ballot boxes or his supporters will storm the police station and everyone will be sent to hell.

The ballot boxes were handed over and Marwat and his supporters took them to the polling station for proper counting and declaration of the actual winner.

This might be the only way to protect the people’s mandate.

There has been police firing in Shangla (KP) and one PTI worker has been badly injured.

More such incidents may occur if people’s wishes are not respected.

Pakistan is heading into even more uncharted territory unless the men in khaki realize that they have lost.

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