Home Featured Nation ‘accepted’ election results, PM Kakar asserts

Nation ‘accepted’ election results, PM Kakar asserts

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ISLAMABAD: Despite the litany of challenges being filed in courts across the country against the Feb 8 general election results, caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar believes the nation has “accepted the results”.

While addressing a press conference at the Prime Minister’s House on Monday, Mr Kakar responded to the allegations of rigging and defended the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the army.

“The nation has accepted the results, let us move on,” Mr Kakar said.

Rejecting complaints being lodged by PTI-backed independent candidates about alleged rigging, the PM questioned how stalwarts like Rana Sanaullah, Javed Latif, Khurram Dastagir and Khawaja Saad Rafiq lost if rigging was committed. “[T]hese people believed that rigging was committed because the mobile service was suspended and results were delayed by 36 hours,” the PM added.

He also took exception to the claims of any “hidden pressure” being exerted to change the election results and said hidden pressure means establishment.

“The biggest deployment of the military is in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and the highest support in terms of [PTI-backed] returned candidates is from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and there were such places [in the province] where no one other than the military has access. If they [the military] wanted to do rigging, then why did they not do it in these places.”

He added that elections were held under the legislation and procedures drafted and passed by the parliament. “The procedure was prescribed in the parliament and was not passed in any corps commander meeting,” he said when asked about President Alvi’s social media post in which he said electronic voting machines would have led to fair elections.

However, he lent support to the president’s views on the need to introduce EVMs and advised parties to have a “threadbare discussion” in the next parliament over this issue.

Mr Kakar blamed political parties for their failure “to enact effective legislation” to plug loopholes in the electoral system.

“Such complaints [about rigging] have been made in the past and will continue in future if they [parliamentarians] do not enact effective legislation,” he added.

The PM added that the caretaker government had provided a level playing field to all political parties. Due to the “free and fair process”, many independent candidates backed by PTI emerged as the largest single group in the national and provincial assemblies’ seats.

When asked why he was defending the ECP when almost every mainstream political party was critical of its performance, the PM responded that if the commission has acted in accordance with the law, then it is his “moral duty to defend them.” He added that there were several forums available to those who have any doubts about the election results.

About the delay in the transmission and announcement of results, the PM claimed that results were issued within 36 hours, while in the 2018 election, it took 66 hours to finalise the results. “This time, results came in from 92,000 polling stations, and the procedure was that a security van would go from all polling stations to transport results to ROs,” the PM said, adding the delay was due to this procedure.

The PM contrasted this with the 2018 general elections in Sweden, which he claimed had a population of around 6.5 million, yet the result count was completed in 12 days.

He said, unfortunately, some private TV channels levelled rigging allegations only an hour after the polling ended.

In reply to a question about security challenges, the PM said despite threats, elections were peaceful, and all stakeholders deserved appreciation for this “big achievement”.

The prime minister also brushed aside concerns over the suspension of mobile phone services and said the action on the polling day was taken due to security threats. He added that broadband internet services were available on that day.

Mr Kakar recalled other days during the year when such action was taken to avert security threats.

The security of people was “more im­­portant to the government”, said the PM as he dismissed the statements from US Congress members, which “should not be taken as sacrosanct or gospel truth”. He defended the government’s action by claiming that there were credible reports of terrorist attacks prior to election day.

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