LAHORE: The PTI on Monday challenged the result of the PP-7 Rawalpindi-II by-election, citing a delay in the result’s announcement and a very small difference between the winning candidate and the runner-up.
According to unofficial results, PML-N’s candidate Raja Sagheer won the by-poll on the Punjab Assembly seat with a thin margin of 49 votes while PTI’s retired colonel Shabbir Awan came in second.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had set up 266 polling stations, comprising 787 polling booths, for 335,295 registered voters in the constituency.
The PTI’s candidate, Shabbir Awan, submitted an application to the returning officer (RO) today, and requested a recount.
In the application, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, Awan said the winning PML-N candidate received 68,906 votes, while he secured 68,857 with the difference being of a mere 49 votes.
He argued in his application that the results of by-polls in other constituencies across Punjab were announced at 7pm while PP-7’s result was shared at 7.40pm, citing “RTS system/server breakdown”.
The Result Transmission System is meant to transmit Form 45 — the statement of the count — from polling stations to RO offices and the ECP Secretariat using a smartphone.
In addition, the difference in votes between him and the winning candidate “falls under the prescribed threshold of five per cent of total votes polled and 10,000 votes pursuant to Section 95 (5) of the Elections Act, 2017”, Awan stated.
He added that he had repeatedly made requests to allow him to be a part of the counting process but they had been declined.
Subsequently, the RO summoned all candidates to the election camp office in Kahuta at 11:30am on Tuesday (tomorrow) for a recount.
He also clarified that the reports circulating in various sections of the media claiming the application was rejected were unfounded and baseless.
At least six candidates contested the election in PP-7. Sagheer was fielded by the PML-N whereas Awan was PTI’s nominee. Hafiz Mansoor of the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan, Raja Tanveer of Jamaat-i-Islami and independent candidates Engineer Raja Nazakat Hussain and retired colonel Wasim also took part in the much-hyped polls.
In some polling stations, the PTI workers had alleged that the ruling party candidate “bribed people through cash and flour”. However, the PML-N had rejected the allegations.
Former MNA and PTI spokesman Sadaqat Ali Abbasi told Dawn that polling remained peaceful but the police and the ECP staff allegedly forced people to cast votes against the former ruling party.
“By afternoon, the PTI supporters had came out in large numbers from Kahuta to cast vote in favour of Imran Khan’s candidate,” he said.
Talking to media earlier in the day, PTI Punjab leader Fayyazul Hassan Chohan said the party had challenged the PP-7 by-poll result and expressed hope the seat would be secured by his party after the recounting of votes.
The PTI also routed the PML-N by winning at least 15 of the 20 seats that got vacated after the disqualification of PTI members who had voted for Hamza Shehbaz for Punjab chief minister’s office.