FAFEN pilots new fraud-detecting techniques in observing PP-250 Rajanpur by-election

ISLAMABAD: The Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) observed the by-election for Punjab Assembly seat PP-250 in Rajanpur in 95% of polling stations on January 3, 2009, piloting new election observation techniques to uncover electoral fraud. FAFEN’s 26-member team witnessed widespread campaigning near polling stations, discrepancies in voter turnout data, and irregularities in the handling of ballot books. FAFEN reiterates its recommendations to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) regarding the need for greater vigilance in the administration of by-elections.

The PP-250 seat fell vacant after the death of Sardar Shaukat Hussain Mazari who won the February 2008 election on a ticket by securing 42,386 votes. The constituency has 149,120 registered voters. Three candidates – Ali Hussain Khan Mazari (independent), Atif Khan Mazari (Pakistan Muslim League -Nawaz) and Zahid Khan Mazari (independent) — were contesting the by-election in the constituency. Rajanpur with its two National Assembly (NA) and four provincial assembly seats borders Sindh and Balochistan provinces. This district consists of three tehsils – Rajanpur, Jampur and Rojhan. According to Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) unofficial results for by-election, the PML-N candidate won the seat by securing 31,209 votes. His closest rival was Zahid Khan Mazari who polled 21,230 votes.

FAFEN deployed 26 trained, neutral and non-partisan observers to observe the by-election in PP-250. FAFEN observers visited 109 of 115 polling stations (95%) and recorded their observations on a standardized, objective checklist based on election rules and regulations, following best practices for election observation.