The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday dismissed a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) plea for a recount of votes in the PP-7 (Rawalpindi) by-election, claiming the party had failed to prove rigging or the need for a recount.
PTI candidate Shabbir Awan had approached the ECP earlier this week to seek a recount of votes for the constituency after claiming rigging during polling. Rival candidate, Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz)’s Raja Sagheer Ahmed, also only won by 49 votes, which is well within the margin of error. The PTI had also alleged that 1,500 votes were rejected and these should be rechecked.
Awan had earlier sought a recount from the returning officer but had been rejected after which he approached the Lahore High Court to demand a recount. The LHC had subsequently ordered the ECP to stop the issuance of results for the Punjab by-polls and resolve the matter.
In his plea, the PTI candidate had questioned why the results for PP-7 were delayed despite all presiding officers reaching the returning officer well before 8 p.m., when a majority of constituencies’ results had been announced.
On Thursday, a five-member bench of the ECP, led by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, heard the PTI’s plea and ruled that rigging had not been proven by the petitioner.
In a posting on Twitter, PTI leader Shafqat Mahmood said the ECP’s decision to deny a recount was against the law and amounted to “undermining the election process.”
Overall, the PTI has won 15 of 20 constituencies in the Punjab by-polls, against the PMLN’s four. The final seat was secured by an independent candidate.