ECP ‘modification’ of poll-related records raises questions

PoliticsECP ‘modification’ of poll-related records raises questions
  • Data of 41 national and provincial seats stored on Google Drive ‘modified’ by commission over past week
  • Form 45s for 14 Lahore seats remained missing till July 3; official claims it could be an ‘honest mistake’

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has recently ‘modified’ the results of at least 41 national and provincial assembly constituencies in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by updating the Form 45s stored on its official Google Drive, Dawn reported on Monday.

Although it is not clear what modifications have been made to the documents, the move has raised questions on the transparency of the electoral process, especially at a time when several disputes have been placed before election tribunals for adjudication.

   

The Form 45 constitutes a crucial record of the electoral process, as it contains key information about the polling station and number of ballots, and is signed by a presiding officer at each polling station. The Form 47, meanwhile, is the provisional consolidated result, prepared by the respective returning officer.

The modifications to the ele­ctoral data came seemingly on the back of a report by an NGO, Pattan-Coalition 38, which claimed that forms for over a dozen constituencies were not available on the ECP website. Released on July 3, this report was rejected by the Election Commission as being ‘baseless’.

However, independent scrutiny of the officially uploaded data by Dawn revealed that the ECP’s claim was incorrect.

The data available on the ECP’s Google Drive — which it has used to upload information pertaining to the 2024 general elections — on July 3 shows that Form 45s of as many as 14 provincial assembly constituencies in Lahore were missing. In their place, Form 46s had been uploaded to fill the void.

An examination of the ECP Google Drive on July 3 also showed that around 50 Form 45s were missing for the NA-125 constituency in Lahore.

But this started to change the very next day. On July 4 and 5 — according to the modification date visible on Google Drive — the ECP added the remaining forms for NA-125, as well as 14 other provincial assembly constituencies in Lahore. These included PP-146, PP-148, PP-150, PP-151, PP-154, PP-156, PP-159, PP-160, PP-162, PP-164, PP-166, PP-170, PP-172, and PP-173.

Besides Punjab Chief Minister Maryan Nawaz’s constituency PP-159, these seats also included PP-164 (Lahore), the seat vacated by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, and PP-150 which was bagged by Aleem Khan of the Istehkam-i-Pakistan Party (IPP).

Besides these Lahore constituencies, the ECP also modified folders of another 26 National and provincial assembly constituencies in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), where Form 45s had already been uploaded.

From Punjab, the 10 constituencies included NA-99, NA-101, NA-103, and NA-104 (Faisalabad). In all four, PML-N candidates had lost to the PTI-backed candidates. Prominent among the winners was Sahibzada Hamid Raza, the Sunni Ittehad Council chief, who bagged NA-104.

The two Lahore seats where data was purportedly modified included NA-118, where Hamza Shehbaz emerged victorious against PTI’s Aliya Hamza Malik, and NA-121, where PML-N’s Rohail Asghar lost to an independent nominee, Wasim Qadir.

Similarly, two constituencies from Okara, NA-136 and NA-138, and one seat each from Layyah and Taunsa also witnessed some updates.

In NA-181 (Layyah) Sahibzada Faizul Hasan of the PML-N lost to Ambar Majeed of the SIC. In NA-183 (Taunsa), the PML-N candidate suffered a defeat from PTI-backed Khawaja Sheeraz Mehmood.

Likewise, there were eight provincial assembly seats where the data seemed to have been modified as well. These seats include PP-22 (Chakwal), PP-23 (Talagang), PP-108 (Faisalabad), PP-186 and 187 (Okara), PP-197 (Pakpattan), and PP-213 (Multan).

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the ECP purportedly updated the data in eight national and provincial constituencies, including NA-35 bagged by former minister Sheryar Afridi from Kohat. These seats include NA-2, NA-3 and NA-35, PK-5, PK-7, PK-8, PK-9 and PK-10, all won by PTI-backed candidates.

‘Honest mistake’

Dawn reached out to the ECP regarding the modifications to its Google Drive folder and the uploading of Form 45s almost five months after the polls, at a time when results had been finalised for months and some of them were under scrutiny before election tribunals.

An ECP official, however, claimed that if Form 46s had been uploaded instead of Form 45s in some folders, it was an honest mistake and there was no bad intent behind it. He insisted that it was not possible to change Form 45s at this stage, as copies of these documents were already available with the candidates and some had landed before election tribunals as well.

However, the official was evasive when asked about the recent modifications to the Google Drive folders, and could not explain why the bulk of these ‘honest mistakes’ happened in constituencies from Lahore.

It is worth remembering that Section 95 (8) of the Elections Act 2017 makes it binding on returning officers (ROs) to send signed copies of the Consolidated Statement of the Results of the Count and Final Consolidated Result together with Results of the Count and the Ballot Paper Account, as received from the presiding officers, to the commission within 24 hours after consolidation proceedings.

Similarly, Section 95(10) of the Act reads, “On receipt of documents under sub-section (8), the Commission shall, within fourteen days from the date of the poll, publish the documents on its website.”

Mati
Mati
Mati-Ullah is the Online Editor For DND. He is the real man to handle the team around the Country and get news from them and provide to you instantly.

Must read

Recent News

Pakistan and Azerbaijan affirm commitment to expand bilateral ties

0
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Pakistan and Azerbaijan have affirmed the commitment to further expanding mutually beneficial cooperation in the areas of bilateral interest, especially energy, trade,...

Steps afoot for promoting entrepreneurship and innovation in the country: Shaza Fatima

0
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: President Qatar Science and Technology Park Dr. Jack Lau called on the Minister of State for IT and Telecommunication Shaza Fatima Khawaja...

Police, administration on high alert to ensure peace & security during Muharram: Mohsin Naqvi

0
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The Federal Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi visited the Markazi Asna Ashri Imam Bargah in G-6, Islamabad last night and reviewed the security...

Supreme Court rules in favour of PTI in Reserved Seats Case

0
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Friday announced the much-anticipated judgement in the Reserved Seats Case, overturning the denial of reserved seats...

Rain Emergencies Alert: Parts of KPK exposed to medium level urban & flash flooding...

0
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The National Disaster Management Authority’s (NDMA) National Emergencies Operation Center anticipated that Rainfall is expected in various parts of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa...
Advertisement