The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has announced that the vote recount in NA-249 by-poll will continue during Eid holidays, and has also cancelled holidays of the provincial staff of the commission, a private TV channel reported. The ECP has decided that its provincial offices with necessary staff will remain open as vote recount will continue even during the Eid holidays. The commission has issued a notification to cancel Eid holidays as offices of the returning officer and district returning officer will remain open. The recounting of votes in NA-249 by-election continued on the second day on Friday despite boycott by all political parties except the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). As per reports, votes polled at 12 polling stations were recounted on Friday. So far, the recounting of 72 polling stations has been completed by the ECP staff. On Thursday, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) had boycotted the vote recount, claiming that the returning officer (RO) had failed to provide the Form 45 and Form 46 and that the seals of the ballot bags were also broken. Speaking to media on Thursday, PML-N candidate Miftah Ismail had claimed that 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 had said. “I am not boycotting the recount alone. The MQM, the PSP and the PTI have all come out,” he had said. “Is this Hitler’s Germany?” he had asked, adding that the party would again approach the ECP. He also said they were not allowed to review signatures and count unused ballots. PTI candidate Amjad Afridi had on Thursday 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”. PML-N’s Ismail had also penned a letter to the chief election commissioner (CEC) on Thursday, informing him about the alleged irregularities and calling 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 had 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 had said in the letter, adding that “almost all parties had boycotted the recount due to this attitude”. The ECP had said on Thursday that the vote recount in NA-249 constituency would continue despite a boycott by major political parties. It had said the commission was bound to recount only the votes that were polled and rejected.