All political parties except for Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the independent candidates on Thursday boycotted the process of recounting of votes in the NA-249 constituency. The PTI, PML-N, MQM and PSP accused the returning officer (RO) of failing to provide the Form 45 and Form 46 and breaking the seal of the ballot bags. Speaking to media in Karachi, PML-N candidate Miftah Ismail claimed the RO had refused to give the Form 45 and Form 46, adding that a full audit was also refused. “Unused ballots were not counted and signatures weren’t shown either,” he claimed. “When we asked why there was no seal on the first ballot bag brought in, we were told that it might have fallen down,” he said. “I am not boycotting the recount alone. The MQM, the PSP and the PTI have all come out,” he further said. “Is this Hitler’s Germany?” he asked, adding that the party would again approach the ECP. He also said they were not allowed to review signatures and count unused ballots. Meanwhile, PTI candidate Amjad Afridi said the rights of the people of NA-249 have been stolen. “This was the worst election in Karachi’s history where people’s mandate was stolen,” he said. He appealed to the Election Commission for justice. The PTI leader said he had submitted the boycott application. “95% of the presiding officers were from the education department,” he alleged. Afridi also filed an application, urging the ECP to declare the by-election ‘void and illegal due to pre-poll rigging, election day rigging and post-poll rigging’. The petition alleged that the PPP had favoured their candidate through unfair means and “adopted all tactics of pre-poll rigging, election day rigging and post-poll rigging in order to win the by-election at any cost”. Afridi said that the provincial government had colluded with the PPP, office of the district election commissioner and NADRA to transfer 17,000 voters from NA-249 across Pakistan, enlist 10,000 to 15,000 new voters from different areas of Sindh to vote for Qadir Khan Mandokhail and had launched development projects worth Rs 2 billion in the constituency which was against election laws. PML-N’s Ismail also penned a letter to the chief election commissioner (CEC), informing him about the alleged irregularities and called on him to “temporarily halt the exercise immediately until instructions are given to the learned RO to follow the law and precedence and allow for a fair and transparent audit”. In the letter, he said that the RO was only allowing a recount of “valid” votes and checking of the invalid votes. “He is insisting on not giving Forms 46, which were not given to us before either, and not letting us examine counterfoils or unused ballots,” the PML-N candidate said in the letter, adding that “almost all parties had boycotted the recount due to this attitude”. “There is no precedent of recounting, not including the counting of used ballots or the checking of Forms 46 or of counterfoil signatures or seals.” He added that the first bag opened by the RO didn’t have a seal on it and further claimed that according to a PSP representative, most of the 25 bags brought into the room by the RO’s team didn’t have seals. “Section 90(13) mandates the provision of Forms 46. Section 100 of the Election Act, 2017 provides the right to examine all election material maintained by ECP/RO in terms of Section 99,” he said. MQM candidate Muhammad Mursaleen also said that the party had boycotted the recount process and that there was no seal on the ballot bag. “The ballot bag had been tied with a rope.” PPP’s Qadir Khan Mandokhail said that even after two hours, the recount had not been completed. “The staff of the election commission is present but there is no electricity,” he said, adding that all parties are present apart from four. “Defeat has become the destiny of the PML-N,” he said, adding that lies were being spoken. “When recounting is happening another Form 46 will be made,” he said. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) said the vote recounting in the NA-249 constituency will continue despite a boycott by major political parties. It said according to the chief election commissioner’s order issued on the PML-N’s petition, commission is bound to recount only the votes that were polled and rejected. “Despite the boycott, the recount process will be completed as per the order,” the ECP said, adding that the political parties are demanding data which is not possible to retrieve.