Islamabad [Pakistan]: In an intriguing turn of events amid the counting of votes in Pakistan, a prominent netizen claimed that the country's chief election commissioner 'disappeared' and could not be found, only to clarify shortly after that he was back at his office.
The netizen, who identifies himself as the deputy director of an international think tank, cited a Pakkistani news channel as reporting that the chief election commissioner has "disappeared and cannot be found at his office at this time".
"Pakistani news channel reporting that the Chief Election Commissioner has "disappeared" and cannot be found at his office at this time," the netizen posted on X.
However, he later clarified in a separate post, "The Chief Election Commissioner has now reappeared at his office."
He also shared a post by a journalist with a leading Pakistani media outlet, saying, "Media reporting that chief election commissioner left and has not come back to the office yet ! Where is he only 2 members sitting there. Why is ECP making these results controversial?"
While the counting of votes is underway, the results of the general elections haven't officially been announced as yet.
Earlier, on Thursday, despite assurances from Pakistan's caretaker government, the credibility of the country's most expensive general elections was called into question with the suspension of cellular networks, restricting the movements of voters, terrorist attacks, and curbing media coverage, The News International reported on Friday.
According to the report, the caretaker government had assured Pakistanis that network connectivity would not be affected during the election day. However, just before the beginning of voting on Thursday, mobile internet services were shut down 'temporarily'.
The daily reported that PKR 42 billion was spent to conduct general elections, making them the most expensive in the country's history.
The amount was 26 per cent more than what was spent in the 2018 elections, the report stated, adding that the increase was due to security and other arrangements by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
Moreover, with more than 128 million people registered as voters, it was the biggest election in the country's history.
Polling for general elections in Pakistan concluded amid allegations of rigging and the shutdown of cellular and internet services, Dawn reported on Thursday.
The voting process began at 8 am and continued till 5 pm. The Election Commission of Pakistan earlier said that exceptions would only be made for people already inside the polling station.
However, the polling is not being considered free and fair, as many allegations were levelled regarding the rigging and people being barred from voting.
In a major development, the Federal Interior Ministry this morning suspended mobile phone and internet services across Pakistan to maintain the law and order situation during the general elections on Thursday.
Internet monitor Netblocks also said the real-time data shows that internet blackouts were in effect in "multiple regions of Pakistan in addition to mobile network disruptions," as reported by Dawn.
The development drew severe criticism from major political parties.Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari demanded the immediate restoration of mobile phone services across the country.
Women voters in a village of NA-20 in Swabi district were completely banned to cast vote, ARY News reported on Thursday.
The locals allegedly prohibited women from exercising their right to vote in Adeena village of Swabi district. According to reports, the election staff were present at the polling station while few women voters were sighted.
In another incident, at least two children were killed in a blast near a polling station in Washbood Panjgur, according to ARY News.