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form 47 ecp

Written by Maidah Tariq 6:45 pm Opinion, Published Content

Manipulation of Form 47 by the Election Commission in the 2024 Elections

Form 47 is an important document that provides an early overview of election results. After the 2024 general elections, citizens across the state waited with bated breath for the announcements. However, instead of releasing official statements as soon as possible, the ECP removed Form 47 and its provisional results from its website servers. This delay in disclosing election results raised doubts about the integrity of the ECP. The flames were further fanned by PTI and PML-N candidates. The blatant manipulation of Form 47 is cause for concern. Such exploitation erodes people’s trust in their state machinery. Maidah Tariq questions whether Pakistan’s democratic process can ever be fully transparent, or will it remain entwined with the will of the elites?
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About the Author(s)
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Ms. Maidah Tariq is a graduate of international relations from National Defence University (NDU), Islamabad, Pakistan. She has a keen interest in the security and foreign policy of China, and Middle Eastern politics.

Introduction

Form 47 is known as the “consolidated statement of results of the count.” It is primarily issued by the returning officer (RO) when he receives Forms 45 and 46 from all pertinent polling stations from their particular electoral constituency. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) uses Form 47 to provide an early glimpse of the election results. It details the number of rejected votes and the initial count of votes each candidate received based on the constituency’s unofficial result.

According to the law, votes are counted in front of independent observers and the candidates or their elected representatives. Moreover, Form 47 does not include postal ballots. After completion, it is the first form that is directly transferred to the central management office of the ECP. 

Manipulation of Form 47 by Political Parties

Results Unavailable on the ECP Website

On Sunday, February 11th, the ECP made a big move by taking Form 47 down on its website amid growing accusations of tampering with the results. The annoying “404 error” that appeared when users tried to access the “Form-47 Provisional Results Dashboard” indicated that the page they were looking for was unavailable on the server.

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Due to the prolonged period between disclosing the election results and the elimination of this vital form, the electoral watchdog became the target of intense conjecture and criticism. The decision to remove the form from the website merely heightened suspicion and created further doubts regarding the honesty and openness of the electoral process. Protests by political parties such as PTI, Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, and Jamaat-e-Islami started to take place across the state against the alleged rigging.

Claims of Tampered Results by PTI

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) stated on Sunday that the ROs rigged Form 47s of 18 National Assembly (NA) seats which the opposition party won. On Thursday, February 8th, the day of the general elections, mobile services were suspended, and there was a delay in the announcement of the initial results. This exercise continued till the weekend.

On Friday, February 9th, PTI claimed it became the largest party in the center and two provinces as the party’s independent candidates won a majority of the votes. After this, they pledged to get the party’s iconic symbol of a “bat” back. A statement attributed to Imran Khan, the party’s previous leader, was circulated via his official social media channels.

The statement congratulated supporters on their victory in the recent general elections in 2024, where they secured an overwhelming two-thirds majority. The statement cast doubt on the electoral conduct by claiming that the party had supposedly obtained “170 mandates” based on carefully recorded Form 45s.

Additionally, Raoof Hassan, PTI’s Central Information Secretary, claimed that as soon as the results started pouring in on Thursday night, they clearly showed that PTI was winning with a majority in the center, Punjab, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, but the “poll manipulators” slowed down the announcement of election results by “tampering with the results.” This eventually halted the process altogether. 

“The candidates of PTI were clearly winning the majority of votes in many constituencies, including Islamabad, at night, but unfortunately, due to political engineering going behind the scenes, their victory was turned into defeat,” he added. Several PTI-backed independent candidates, such as Meher Bano Qureshi from NA-151 and Salman Akram Raja from NA-128, had previously declared victory based on official records.

The provisional results of Form 47 of 18 NA seats were “falsely changed,” said PTI’s Secretary General Omar Ayub. He also stated, “PTI fairly won these seats. These corrupt bureaucrats have stolen the mandate given by the people of Karachi to PTI”. He went on record as saying that he would initiate legal cases against the ROs for their malicious manipulation. 

“You have explicitly betrayed the trust that the public has placed in you. It will be necessary for you to come before parliamentary committees and for your conduct to be exposed in Parliament. Until you are released from your responsibilities, we are dedicated to pursuing legal options.” He warned, “Either immediately correct and accept your mistakes or get ready to face the full force of legal ramifications and sanctions levied against you by the judiciary.”

PML-N’s Response

Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) formed a specific legal team to address claims of electoral irregularities. Azam Nazeer Tarar, senator of PML-N, responded to claims of voting irregularities by revealing the party’s coordinated efforts to form a legal team that would address the accusations of rigging. He reaffirmed the party’s will to defend their case in court tenaciously. Speaking to reporters in Lahore, he emphasized that PML-N chose not to file a lawsuit despite Khawaja Saad Rafique’s electoral defeat, opting out of playing the “victim card.”

Critiquing PTI, Tarar condemned an ongoing pattern of dishonesty. “While we harbor our concerns, we have chosen to respect the electoral process conducted under the scrutiny of cameras and honor the outcome,” he stated. Tarar also emphasized the crucial role of a coalition government and the necessity of all political parties participating equally in governance.

In the meantime, PML-N spokesperson Azma Bukhari denounced PTI’s accusations of manipulation, saying that these claims only came to light after the party lost elections. Bukhari accused PTI of being the first to use written petitions to contest lost constituencies, citing Salman Akram Raja as a leader in this area. She called on all organizations to follow their mandates and promoted election tribunals as the appropriate forum for resolving complaints about election outcomes or manipulation. Bukhari also mentioned the PML-N’s misgivings about NA-15 in Mansehra.

Conclusion

It is evident from the delay in the election results and the statements of PTI candidates that some form of electoral misconduct and fraud took place at the hands of the ROs. The ECP introduced forms (45, 46, 47, 48, and 49) to make the electoral process fair and transparent. Unfortunately, political parties have been known to manipulate these forms solely for their interests and lust for power. The parties are blaming each other while claiming to be on the right path themselves, leading to mistrust and chaos.

“Democracy is a government of the people, by the people and for the people”

Abraham Lincoln

So, if Pakistan claims to be a democratic state, then what the people want should be prioritized rather than what the leaders want. Political leaders should not use unfair means in the electoral process but rather emphasize conducting fair elections. 


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