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Massive Rigging Unfolds After Massive Turnout in GE2024

Allegations of massive rigging have surfaced after polling concluded in General Elections 2024. Surprisingly, Independent candidates backed by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) which was contesting elections against all the odds looked to have secured a landslide victory across Pakistan in initial results broadcasted on almost all leading TV channels. In an election marred by infrequent violence, suspension of cellular network, PTI claims that their voters came out in huge numbers to record massive turnout and stun the system.

One hour after voting closed, poll result started flashing on TV screens and shocked the observers and political pundits alike who were predicting a landslide victory for Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, as they have allegedly cut a deal with military to return to power. As the poll results unfolded, the situation was not in favor of power brokers as many stalwarts of PML-N including former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif seemed to be losing the poll race. By midnight, PTI was leading roughly on 135 seats of National Assembly besides a clean sweep in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, their stronghold since 2013.

Sensing the situation, PML-Leadership who were gathered in Party’s Lahore office left the place without making any official statement despite having made all the arrangements for a victory speech.

After midnight, tables started turning on PTI as announcement of further results almost stopped for many hours. Meanwhile, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja also left his office for some alleged meeting at undisclosed location and returned many hours later.

As per Election Act, it is mandatory to issue results (Form 47) by 2:00 am. However, no official result was announced by Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) till the deadline.

When the announcement of results resumed in wee hours on Feb 9, many of the PTI backed candidates having clear majority over their opponents started losing the contest. In many cases, number of votes secured by these candidates seemed to have reversed as a result of alleged massive rigging.

Many of the candidates like Basharat Raja, Salman Akram Raja, Rehana Imtiaz Dar and others claimed that they hold a decisive lead over their opponents as per Form 45, the primary source of election results at the lowest level. The votes for each candidate are tabulated at each polling station on the Form 45.

However, Returning Officers manipulating the results using Form 47, which is nothing but a summary of all the Forms 45 from each polling station. PTI further alleged that their polling agents were also abducted and forced to sign on “fake” Form 45s as part of massive rigging drive launched to pave way for PML-N.

The latest results show that Pakistan is heading towards a fractured mandate as no party has the numbers to take solo flight. PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, while announcing victory (surprisingly) confirmed that he did not have the numbers to form the government, said that his younger brother Shahbaz Sharif would reach out to Asif Ali Zardari to talk about a possible coalition with the Pakistan People’s Party.

The latest count suggests that the PTI backed independent candidates have won 98 out of the 218 seats counted so far. The PML-N and PPP are trailing behind with 69 and 51 seats respectively. Ruling out any alliance with the PML-N or Bilawal Bhutto’s PPP, PTI chairman Gohar Ali Khan had earlier said that they would “form the government at the Centre and Punjab,” as per Associated Press.

As we write these lines, a handsome number of voters are demonstrating at different places against massive rigging and demanding the results as per form 45.

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