ISLAMABAD - The Chief Election Commissioner Justice (Retd) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim has asked the Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, for the provision of complete security from military during the re-polling at certain polling stations in Karachi, Khuzdar, Bannu and South Waziristan Agency, scheduled in coming days.
The Army Chief has assured the CEC of the military’s full support during the re-polling in the areas concerned, it is further learnt. During his visit to the General Headquarters (GHQ) on Thursday, the CEC called on the COAS on the pretext of thanking him for the “army’s support in provision of security during the entire conduct of elections 2013,” according to a press release.
However, according to informed insiders, the visit primarily aimed at seeking the military’s assistance during re-polling at the 78 polling stations of six electoral constituencies and the two entire constituencies, scheduled this weekend and the next week.
The meeting between the COAS and CEC took place immediately after the Sindh Government conveyed on Thursday to the ECP that it was unable to hold the re-polling at the 43 polling stations of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-dominated National Assembly constituency NA-250 in Karachi on May 19 due to security concerns.
Embedded with implied threats and warnings shots, the MQM’s opposition to the re-polling at the said number of polling stations comes from its demand to have the re-polling done in the entire NA-250 constituency. According to an ECP source, the Sindh’s Caretaker Chief Minister Zahid Qurban Alvi informed the CEC that the re-polling in Karachi was possible only with the deployment of military troops at the polling stations concerned.
Reportedly, the military was contacted, which conveyed to the ECP on Wednesday that the armed force was ready to have the troops deployed at all the 43 polling stations of NA-250 and Sindh Assembly constituencies PS-112 Karachi-XXIV and PS-113 Karachi-XXV, as desired by the CEC. Later on Wednesday, the ECP announced re-polling at the 35 polling stations in Khuzdar, Bannu and SWA while the CEC visited the GHQ reportedly to ensure the military’s presence at all these polling stations as well that are scheduled to undergo re-polling.
The COAS, a military source shared, assured the CEC of complete cooperation during the re-polling at all the constituencies and the polling stations concerned. The army statement issued after the Thursday meeting impliedly hinted at the same. “The COAS reiterated army’s continued support for providing assistance in future as well, as defined by the Election Commission of Pakistan,” it added.
The Sindh Rangers and the regular military troops would be kept at the ECP’s disposal during re-polling in Karachi while Frontier Corps (FC) and military men would serve the same purpose in Khuzdar, Bannu and SWA, according to the military official.
The re-polling at two and four polling stations of National Assembly constituencies, NA-269 Khuzdar and NA-41 Tribal Area-VI-South Waziristan, respectively, as well as four and three polling stations of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly constituencies, PK-71, Bannu-II and PK-72, Bannu-III, respectively, will be held on May 21. The re-polling at 21 polling stations of NA-46 Tribal Area-XI-South Waziristan will be held on May 25.
Meanwhile, the Secretary ECP Ishtiak Ahmed Khan categorically rebutted the findings of Free and Fair Elections Network (FAFEN), a local electoral watchdog, which reported that 49 polling stations had 100 percent result in May 11 general elections. Pointing to stark inaccuracies in FAFEN data while talking to media, the secretary cited official figures suggesting that National Assembly’s constituencies NA 5, 6, 128, 130 and 142 had 42 per cent, 47 per cent, 31 per cent, 60 per cent and 65 per cent voters turnout compared to FAFEN-reported turnout of 157 per cent, 116 per cent, 105 per cent, 132 per cent and 109 per cent in the respective constituencies.
The ECP, Khan said, received 110 electoral complaints regarding May 11 polls and ordered recounting in response to eight to nine complaints. He said the remaining complains would be redressed with the formation of election tribunals (ETs) after the notification of official results in the coming days. “There’s nothing to worry about, let’s move forward,” he said while claiming that ballot papers were equipped with sophisticated features that allowed the detection of fake voting and prevented ballot papers misuse.
Monitoring Desk adds: FAFEN has regretted inaccuracies in its list of 49 polling stations that it earlier claimed had seen a voter turnout of more than 100 per cent. FAFEN clarified that the data was based on reports of citizen observers trained to monitor the voting and counting processes on election day.
FAFEN clarified that inaccuracies in the data might have been due to ‘human errors’ by volunteer citizen observers in transcribing numbers by hand from Statements of the Count late at night on polling day.