Pakistan's Top Poll Body Blames Mobile Service Suspension on Poll Day for Delay

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Published : Feb 12, 2024, 9:24 PM IST

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The Election Commission of Pakistan said that the delay in poll results on Thursday was due to suspension of internet and mobile services.

Islamabad: Contrary to its earlier claim, Pakistan's top election watchdog on Monday blamed the suspension of internet and mobile services on Thursday when country-wide polling took place for general elections, which it said did create hindrance in declaring results in a timely manner.

Amid rumours of horse-trading in the absence of a clear majority and also the delay in declaring results on all seats of the National Assembly (NA), the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) also claimed that the delay in results did not harm any specific political party. After the first result trickled down late that same night, the final result for the NA polls was declared only on Sunday, prompting all political parties, common citizens and, observers too, to condemn the ECP.

On the polling day, Pakistan's Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja said its Election Management System (EMS) is not dependent on the internet and its work will not be affected due to it. Even when various government agencies had assured that internet services would remain functional on the voting day, twin terror attacks that killed at least 30 people a day before prompted the caretaker government to suspend the mobile services due to the deteriorating security situation.

On Monday, the ECP, in a statement said, the move (to suspend the internet) had severely affected the coordination and transport of election material. Except for some constituencies, the results of the elections were completed within one and a half days, the statement said, adding, The delay in results in some constituencies did not benefit or harm any specific political party.

The electoral watchdog highlighted that the first result of the 2024 election was received at 2 am compared to the 2018 election result, which was received at 4 am. Introduced for the first time, the Election Management System (EMS) app was used for relaying the election results from each polling station to a centralised system where tabulation of all results was to happen.

Two days before the polling day, ECP Secretary Syed Asif Hussain too had said the EMS would work even if the internet failed, as returning officers (ROs) would still be able to compile all results offline. More than 60 ROs in remote areas were provided with satellite connectivity to keep them connected, he had claimed.

As the National Assembly results showed, independents, backed by former prime minister Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party, won 101 seats. Another former prime minister Nawaz Sharif-led Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) got 75 seats, while the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) of former foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari grabbed 54 and the MQM-P secured 17 seats.

Among other parties, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) won four seats, PML-Quaid, three, and Istehkam-e-Pakistan Party (IPP) and the Balochistan National Party (BNP), two each. To form a government, a party must win 133 seats out of 265 contested seats in the National Assembly.

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