Establishment Finds that Rigging Elections is Not as Easy as it Used to Be

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It is a well-known that Pakistan’s elections have almost always been rigged, either heavily rigged or lightly rigged. The same was true for the 12th general elections, the only difference being that in the day of social media and cellphones it is not as easy to rig openly as it used to be in previous decades.

The end result, chaos, and confusion – maybe something the establishment is fine with, but it is not a recipe for the stability that Pakistan desperately needs for its economic crises.

As an editorial in Dawn noted, “there were significant irregularities in this election that voters must be given answers for, and it is important that their concerns are promptly addressed by the ECP. The most pressing issue is what seems to be the outright theft of the public mandate in some parts of the country, as evidenced by the large discrepancies between various reported results. There are growing voices of concern, including in the international community, over why some of the ECP’s announced results differ so widely from the personal tallies kept by the candidates as well as the unofficial, parallel counts maintained by TV channels through their independent sources.”

As Dawn pointed out, “it is strange that, for most parts of the country, the results reported by the channels seem to closely match the results announced by the ECP much later; however, in many major urban constituencies, where media presence and resources are, in fact, the strongest, the divergence is extremely large. Clearly, something went awry during the results tabulation process in these constituencies, which needs to be promptly investigated and addressed.”

Dawn warns, “before things get messier, the ECP should take action. The present CEC had taken strict and principled action over the February 2021 rigging of the Daska by-poll, starting with withholding its result. Similar action is needed right now, especially in constituencies where losing candidates have evidence to make a strong claim. Moreover, wherever the rules call for it, the ECP must allow a recount. It should also release any information that can help auditors cross-check its results. This is an opportunity for the institution to restore its credibility. With international pressure growing, it must act quickly.”

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Author: Alia Khan