Monday, September 28th, 2020
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The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has denied allegations of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and other parties that their polling agents were not being provided Form-45. Talking to media persons here, Secretary ECP Babar Yaqoob said that all polling agents have been provided with Form-45. The form contains the final vote tally at each polling station.

He asked all parties to approach the commission with specific complaints against Returning Officers as well as the polling stations where irregularities are allegedly occurring. He said that the only information he had received so far is that polling agents whose parties are not performing well are leaving the stations without taking the forms, and then claiming that they have not received them.

He said that in case any proof is brought forward, action will be taken against all individuals found responsible for any negligence. The secretary said that provincial election commissioner in Punjab has categorically denied the allegations leveled by the PML-N. He said the political leaders should refrain from leveling such 'baseless' allegations without having any substantial proof.

Explaining the process, the election commissioner clarified that only one polling agent of every party is allowed inside the polling station at the time of counting of votes. Earlier, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday turned down requests by political parties including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Awami National Party (ANP), Awami Muslim League (AML) that sought one hour extension in polling timings due to long queues outside polling stations.

"The polling time was already extended by an hour than usual time. Only the voters inside the polling station till 6pm will be allowed to cast their votes", said an ECP spokesperson while responding to the political parties' request. The ECP had fixed polling hours from 8am to 6pm across the country on polling day to elect the 15th National Assembly at the center and provincial assemblies in four provinces.

"No one will be allowed to join the queues outside the polling stations after 6pm", the ECP spokesperson further said. Earlier, in a letter written to ECP, PML-N Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed had sought one hour extension in voting timings due to increased number of voters in long outside polling stations as well as due to the slow process.

"The PML-N is making this demand under Section 70 of the Elections Act 2017, which authorizes ECP to extend polling hours already fixed", Mushahid pointed out in the letter. "This is not only causing inconvenience to voters standing in long lines in the hot and humid weather, but it may end up depriving people of their right of vote of this tedious, slow and cumbersome voting procedure adopted by personnel at almost all the polling stations in Pakistan", the letter reads.

Citing "large-scale nationwide complaints", Mushahid wrote in the letter that only "three to four people" are being allowed to enter the polling station at one time, slowing down the process. "We are receiving complaints on a large scale nationwide and PML-N would appreciate if this demand of the voters is accepted to ensure that the elections are free, fair and transparent so that all the voters desirous of casting their votes are not deprived of that fundamental right", the letter further reads.

PPPP secretary-general Farhatullah Babar and Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmad and Awami National Party (ANP) had also sought an extension in the polling time by one hour.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2018

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