As per the United Nations, North Africa and the Middle East are among the areas that face problems related to transparency in election processes and the by-poll results. Even in the NA-249 by-poll results, it was disclosed that a large number of voters had cast their votes without being informed of the exact count. This calls into question the counting process as well as the election laws of the country concerned.
There have been numerous cases across the world, where in countries like Pakistan and Nigeria the results of an election have been announced weeks or months after the voting has taken place. In NA-249 by-polls, the turnout was found to be lower than the turnout registered at any previous polls. This is attributed to widespread corruption and voting fraud that took place during the last general elections. The by-polling was stopped soon after these irregularities were discovered and the National Commission for Election (NCEC) was formed to conduct future elections based on the rules of the constitution and the election laws of Pakistan.
It is apparent that the low voter turnout is caused by several factors. One is the fraudulent activities of some elements that may be identified to be involved in some manner or the other in conducting the by-poll. Such elements include people who have tenders to win government contracts. Some fraudulent elements have also shown to have links to some local and international terrorist groups.
Out of these, there have been numerous reports of rigging and irregular conduct alleged to have occurred during the last general elections. The irregularities that took place in the by-polls in NA 249 bear testimony to the rampant level of corruption in the Pakistani political system. However, such fraudulent elements cannot be easily fingered. Instead, it is important that the federal and provincial governments to take strong measures to track down those guilty of fraud so as to bring about a sea change in the way of functioning of the country. If by-poll results are withheld, this will bring about more chaos and instability in the country, with consequences that can only be bad for the stability of Pakistan’s democratic system.
The by-poll results have often been announced hours before polls are due to start. This is an obvious attempt to manipulate the voters and to ensure that the results reflect the wishes of the majority. There have also been instances where the election results have been declared incomplete and wrong. For instance, while a certain candidate might have won an election, his seat might have been given to an opponent merely because the voting machines tabulated his vote. Such errors cannot be taken lightly and they must be rectified immediately so as to prevent further damage to the credibility of the election process.
There have also been cases where by-poll results were declared wrong because of the conduct of election agents and election officials. In such cases, the by-polling agents were given instructions by the High Court not to inform the voters about the by-poll results. This has led to great inconvenience for the general public, who had expected to receive their salaries immediately. The High Court found that the conduct of the by-polling officers was responsible for this case and ordered them to inform the public about the results of the by-poll.
Another case regarding the withholding of NA-249 by-poll results came up when the candidates agreed to an interview program hosted by a channel owned by the ruling party. During the interview, a heated discussion took place between the candidates about NA-249 and other constitutional issues. When the candidates agreed to participate in the program, there was no mention of NA-250. As a result, many of the citizens of Rawal Lake came out in the streets demanding for an explanation as to why NA-250 had not been included in the by-poll list. This led to a major political embarrassment for the ruling party, forcing it to declare a ban on all forms of media advertisements concerning any party. This ban has been instrumental in ensuring that the by-poll results remained a mystery.
While most of the candidates and the election authorities have suffered from the effects of these irregularities, the people residing in Rawal Lake have been left in a big dilemma. How could they cast their votes when the results of by-polls are announced during the night? Furthermore, how could they verify the results of the by-polls if they were not even informed about them? The veil has now been lifted and people can finally find out about NA-250 and the rest of the by-poll details. But since the implementation of this system, more instances of cheating have emerged and the people of Rawal Lake are now left to face daunting challenges in choosing the winning candidate for the upcoming elections.