Delayed results: ‘Death threats forced Khuzdar ROs into hiding’

Saturday, June 1st, 2013 5:00:15 by


Following death threats by Baloch militants, two returning officers (ROs) in Khuzdar refused to prepare consolidated election results and disappeared, one after the other, on Election Day, The Express Tribune has learnt.

According to senior Election Commission officials, their disappearance delayed the announcement of Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) chief Sardar Akhtar Mengal’s victory in PB-35 (Khuzdar-II) by 17 days.

Khuzdar Assistant Commissioner Naseer Ahmed Mirwani, the constituency’s RO, initially conducted the entire electoral process till the counting of ballots on May 11. However, he suddenly disappeared from his office without making a final report of consolidated results, which was to be forwarded to the provincial election commissioner’s (PEC) office in Quetta.

Before going into hiding, Mirwani reportedly told polling agents that he could not make the final report since he had received death threats by militants. The situation left ECP with no option other than appointing a substitute RO – Raja Tariq Ahmed Chandio – in his place to finish the task.

Chandio accepted the task under the condition that he be transferred out of Khuzdar as soon as he finished the report. But once his condition was turned down by ECP officials, he too left the city for some unknown place without completing the task.

Ultimately, ECP appointed the commissioner of Kalat to finish the task left incomplete by Mirwani and Chandio. Mengal was subsequently declared the winner for PB-35 after the third RO submitted the final report to the commission.

BNP-M claims the delay was part of the government’s tactics to prevent the party from securing a reserved seat in the Balochistan Assembly.

Mengal’s win was announced a day after ECP allocated the reserved seats to different winning parties, said BNP-M vice president Sajid Tareen Advocate. He maintained that under relevant election laws, ECP was obligated to announce election results within 10 days  of polling.

“Had Mengal’s win been announced on time, our party would have been in a position to secure one of the seats reserved for women in the Balochistan Assembly,” said Tareen.

“Election results were delayed by five to seven days in all constituencies where BNP-M candidates had bright chances of winning,” he claimed.

“In those five to seven days, undemocratic forces changed the people’s mandate and caused our candidates’ defeat,” Tareen added. He alleged that a key reason for BNP-M candidates’ defeat was the misuse of postal ballots by the authorities.

“One of our candidates, Rauf Mengal, who was contesting for a National Assembly seat from Khuzdar lost with only 58 votes to his rival Maulana Qamaruddin. Qamaruddin was declared the winner after the authorities produced over 100 postal ballots in his support, while a bag containing 180 postal ballots for Rauf went missing,” he contended.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 1st, 2013.

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