Allegations of systematic pre-poll rigging through population manipulation
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Senator Taj Haider, in charge of the PPP Central Election Cell, addressed the ongoing issue of systematic pre-poll rigging in Pakistan, emphasizing the manipulation of population figures by officials at the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. This practice, he asserted, continues unchecked and undeterred. The Senator unveiled a multi-phase strategy that appears to favour certain parties while disadvantaging others in the run-up to the elections.

The modus operandi involves altering population figures in a strategic manner. In the initial stage, considerable segments of the population residing in PPP strongholds were deliberately left uncounted. This skewed approach drastically reduced the total population count of at least three provinces. In the subsequent phase, the counting period was manipulated, granting a favourable advantage to parties traditionally opposing the Pakistan People’s Party.

Senator Taj Haider went on to reveal that the so-called “digital counting” was concluded on May 22nd at midnight. The online population and household count data were secured via screenshots by Sindh and other provinces. The saga continued with the third phase of pre-poll rigging, where the reduced population and household figures were presented in sealed envelopes during the ‘CCI’ meeting.

Amid growing concerns over these reduced figures, the CCI meeting participants were informed that the action was taken to avoid altering the current number of National Assembly (NA) seats in provinces. This was deemed necessary to circumvent the complex process of a constitutional amendment in Article 51 (3), particularly in the present circumstances.

A demand for district-wise population figures was raised during the ‘CCI’ meeting, to which the response indicated readiness to distribute the figures. However, the figures were only made available on the website after a week, following further reductions in population and average family sizes in stronghold rural areas.

In the current phase of pre-poll rigging, the manipulation of block populations and household figures remains discreet. This effort seems geared towards accommodating a major right-wing political party, aiming to extend the constitutional election date. The goal is to bolster the party’s prospects by manipulating the delimitation of constituencies within provinces.

To maintain the existing number of NA seats allotted to provinces would negate the need for fresh delimitation, thereby abiding by constitutional provisions. Any appeals against delimitations could be addressed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) under the Election Act. The Senator noted that the ECP was well-equipped to conduct general elections within the constitutionally mandated timeframe, considering the extra 30 days granted through the early dissolution of assemblies.

Senator Taj Haider called for the immediate disclosure of population and household figures for all population blocks in the country. He advised those involved in manipulation to cease such actions, cautioning them against the consequences of engaging in criminal activities that will not go unchallenged.

Hanif Samoon is a senior journalist based at Thar/Badin and contributes reports from different districts of Sindh to Minute Mirror. He has won a number of awards, including the Agahi Award twice for his stories on health and child rights. He tweets @HanifSamoon1 and can be reached through email at