Election tribunal orders re-election in NA-154
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.