Elec­tion tri­bunal or­ders re-elec­tion in NA-154

The Pak Banker - - NATIONAL -

Punjab elec­tion tri­bunal's com­mis­sion on Wed­nes­day an­nounced its ver­dict in favour of Ja­hangir Ta­reen over a pe­ti­tion filed by the for­mer sec­re­tary gen­eral of Pak­istan Tehreek-i-In­saf (PTI) against al­leged rig­ging in NA154 (Lodhran) dur­ing the 2013 gen­eral elec­tions.

The tri­bunal de­seated Pak­istan Mus­lim League-Nawaz (PML-N) can­di­date Muham­mad Sid­dique Khan Baloch and or­dered re-elec­tion in the con­stituency. The elec­tion tri­bunal on Aug 20 had re­served its ver­dict af­ter the lawyers of both the par­ties com­pleted their ar­gu­ments.

The ver­dict comes days af­ter the ECP de-no­ti­fied Na­tional Assem­bly Speaker Sar­dar Ayaz Sadiq based on the de­ci­sion an­nounced by Punjab elec­tion com­mis­sion's tri­bunal. The PMLN's Ayaz Sadiq had de­feated Im­ran Khan in the 2013 gen­eral elec­tions from NA-122 af­ter which PTI had chal­lenged the re­sults. Punjab elec­tion com­mis­sion's tri­bunal had or­dered repolling in NA-122, declar­ing the elec­tion in the con­stituency null and void.

Fur­ther­more, ear­lier this year ECP is­sued a no­ti­fi­ca­tion of an­nul­ment of PML-N leader Khawaja Saad Rafique's mem­ber­ship from the Na­tional Assem­bly af­ter an elec­tion tri­bunal an­nulled re­sults of the NA125 elec­tion and or­dered a re-poll on the seat won by Rail­ways Min­is­ter Khawaja Saad Rafique.

Ma­jor po­lit­i­cal par­ties, in­clud­ing the Pak­istan Peo­ple's Party (PPP), have ex­pressed reser­va­tions over the in­tegrity of ECP mem­bers, said Qureshi. "We hereby re­quest that, in or­der to up­hold the in­tegrity of the in­sti­tu­tion and work­ing in the bet­ter in­ter­est of na­tion, the ECP mem­bers should step down," sug­gested the PTI leader.

NA-154 is among the four where PTI Chair­man Im­ran Khan has been de­mand­ing a re­count and ver­i­fi­ca­tion of the thumb im­pres­sions. PTI sup­port­ers, gath­ered out­side the elec­tion com­mis­sion tri­bunal in Mul­tan, erupted in cel­e­bra­tions af­ter the ver­dict was an­nounced.

An in­de­pen­dent can­di­date, Muham­mad Sid­dique Khan Baloch who later joined PML-N, was de­clared suc­cess­ful by the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion of Pak­istan (ECP) in this con­stituency in 2013. The re­sult was chal­lenged by Jehangir Ta­reen through an elec­tion pe­ti­tion filed un­der Sec­tion 52 of the Act, claim­ing that Mr Baloch pos­sessed fake sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion, in­ter­me­di­ate and un­der­grad­u­ate de­grees and he com­mit­ted illegal prac­tices on polling day.

The tri­bunal on May 21, 2014, had di­rected Na­tional Data­base and Reg­is­tra­tion Au­thor­ity (Nadra) to carry out thumb ver­i­fi­ca­tion on the re­quest of Mr Ta­reen but Mr Baloch got a stay or­der from the La­hore High Court on May 26. Mr Ta­reen moved the Supreme Court through his coun­sel Ab­dul Hafeez Pirzada against the LHC de­ci­sion. The apex court on June 6, 2014, va­cated the LHC stay or­der and di­rected the tri­bunal to hold pro­ceed­ings on a daily ba­sis for the ver­i­fi­ca­tion of thumb im­pres­sions.

Ac­cord­ing to the ECP, Sid­dique Baloch had bagged 86,177 votes against Mr Ta­reen who stood sec­ond with 75,955 votes. There were 370,150 reg­is­tered votes, out of which 235,938 were polled. As many as 9,904 votes were re­jected and the vot­ing per­cent­age was 67.4.

On the other hand, Pak­istan Mus­lim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has de­cided to with­draw all ap­peals against ver­dicts by the elec­tion tri­bunals in favour of re-elec­tions in NA 122, 125 and 154 con­stituen­cies. Ac­cord­ing to de­tails, PML-N has de­cided to go to 'peo­ple's court' in­stead of ju­di­ciary and pre­vi­ously win­ning can­di­date of NA 122 Khawaja Saad Rafique will also with­draw ap­peals.

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