By Tirthankar Mitra
Pakistan is left sans an announced victor after its recently held elections. It is time for the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to take call. In doing so, the ECP will have to look the army in the eye. For it is the army which has engineered a fractured mandate by knocking out the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) before the people queued up before the polling booth.
At the moment, frantic closed door negotiations are on over the possible configuration of power in Pakistan. The results show that PTI backed 101 independents have won while PML-N with 75 seats is getting the support of the army. .Pakistan military wants a coalition government led by PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif in alliance with the PPP. Imran Khan’s PTI is being kept outside this coalition talks. Indications are the Pak army chief will decide the nature of the coalition.
Aspirations of the poll contestants widely differ. Some will be glad to see the election chapter closed while others are willing to see further even if it turns out to be the bitter end. But the voters are not in a mood to meekly move on. It is this feature which sets them apart from some of the personalities and political outfits seeking their votes.
The people of Pakistan have good reason to stand up and be counted After all, these men and women before casting their votes have navigated a long voyage of intimidation. Political tragedy visited Pakistan on an occasion which should have been a dance of democracy A stalemate has been deliberately engineered and it has to be broken.
Glaring discrepancies in the election results have surfaced. Such differences point to suspicions to poll irregularities. Huge differences in the votes polled between strong and unknown candidates top the chart if one is to start a count of irregularities. It boils down to outright theft of poll mandate in various parts of Pakistan at the instance of the officials prodded by the Pak army.
Watchdogs of democracy in Pakistan and away from it are eager to learn of the reason and remedy to the wide gulfs of differences nay discrepancies between some of the ECP’s announced results and tallies maintained by candidates together with television news channels. Suspicions of anomaly are strengthened by the inordinate delays in bringing out the results.
How come results maintained by television channels tally with the same announced by ECP much later? How in many urban constituencies such differences are markedly large? Incidentally, these constituencies had significant media coverage. It led to ensuring an accurate tally of votes cast.
Instances are galore. Candidates of PTI contesting as independents in Islamabad, Multan, Lahore have been witness to comfortable and sometimes thumping victory margins turning to improbable defeats. Some have moved court challenging the results. Others will follow suit. Doubts of things going awry during the counting process cannot be set aside. This has to be probed and addressed.
Given the precedent set by the present Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) withholding the Daska by-poll results in February 2021, a principled stand is expected. One especially looks forward to such action where the Opposition candidate has a strong claim. Wherever the rules allow, the ECP must have a recount. This is an opportunity to reestablish democracy in Pakistan and the ECP should not miss it. (IPA Service)