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Elections in Pakistan: A High Number of Rejected Ballots in Controversial Polls Raises Questions About Rigging

Local media sources state that in Pakistan’s general elections, the number of votes rejected exceeded the margin of victory in at least twenty National Assembly seats. According to the Dawn newspaper, up to 22 seats in Punjab had more votes rejected than the winning margin, with one each in the provinces of Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Due to this discrepancy and claims of vote-rigging, several defeated candidates—the bulk of whom are connected to PTI—have filed numerous applications with the courts asking for a review of the results, potentially leading to legal disputes. Thirteen of these seats were won by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), five by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), four by independents supported by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), and two by other independents.

Based on their combined numbers, the PPP and the PML-N are able to create a coalition government in the center. Nawaz Sharif, the leader of the PML-N, however, said that all parties—aside from the PTI—should work together in the future alliance. PTI-backed Independents won 93 of the 265 National Assembly seats, according to results released by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) until Sunday. PML-N came in second with 73, PPP with 54, MQM with 17 and others with 19.

In Punjab’s NA-59 (Talagang-cum-Chakwal) district, where PML-N’s Sardar Ghulam Abbas received 141,680 votes as opposed to Muhammad Ruman Ahmad, who was sponsored by the PTI and received 129,716 votes, the most votes were rejected. There were 11,964 votes that were rejected out of 24,547 total ballots cast. NA-213 Umerkot (17,571 votes) came after it. NA-236 Karachi East-II has been reported to have the fewest votes removed, at 51 ballots. Approximately two million ballots from the 265 National Assembly seats have been disqualified from counting altogether.

Four seats had a combined total of over 15,000 votes that were removed. Ten to fifteen thousand more votes have been deleted from 21 seats. A significant proportion of seats (137) indicated that between 5,000 and 10,000 ballots were rejected. Over 1,000 votes were eliminated, while less than 5,000 were recorded from 67 seats. Less than 1,000 votes have been recorded as excluded from six seats in total.

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