Pakistan News

Poll tribunal deseats another PML-N lawmaker

Poll tribunal deseats another PML-N lawmaker

LAHORE/MULTAN: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf won another moral victory on Wednesday when an election tribunal in Multan disqualified the PML-N candidate from NA-154 (Lodh­ran-I) and ordered re-election.

On a petition filed by PTI’s central organiser Jahangir Khan Tareen, the tribunal’s decision came a few days after a similar decision by a Lahore election tribunal that de-seated National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq.

The disqualification of PML-N’s Mohammad Siddi­que Khan Baloch is the ‘third wicket’ earned by the PTI.

Besides pointing out massive irregularities in the election, Multan tribunal judge Zahid Mehmood disqualified Mr Baloch, who contested the 2013 poll as an independent candidate and later joined the PML-N, for possessing fake educational qualification and concealing facts.

With the fall of PML-N wickets in quick succession, the PTI is asserting that the May 2013 general elections have become completely controversial.

The party’s Chairman, Imran Khan, tweeted that Tareen’s long, arduous and determined struggle for justice in NA-154 had been vindicated by the tribunal’s verdict.

While the tribunal judge has directed the Election Commission of Pakistan to conduct re-election in the constituency, the PTI says there will be no use of holding local bodies’ polls, by-election or mid-term elections without electoral reforms and installing an independent election commission.

The PTI is currently cautiously calling for mid-term elections, instead of by-elections, while pressing for removal of ECP’s four provincial members and introduction of electoral reforms to ensure a free, fair and transparent election.

“Otherwise, there will be no use of holding local bodies’ polls, by-election or mid-term elections,” said Punjab PTI organiser Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar.

Indicating that the PTI does not want to take to the streets, he said the party wanted democracy to prosper and the next elections – be it local bodies, by-election or mid-term – should be held in a manner that the sanctity of ballot be ensured.

Mr Baloch accepted the tribunal’s decision, but said his degree was not fake and he would work out a strategy after consulting the PML-N leadership.

Jahangir Tareen termed the decision a victory of Imran Khan’s point of view about rigging in the 2013 elections.

He said Mr Baloch’s victory was manoeuvred and it took him two-and-a-half years to get justice, though the tribunal was supposed to decide his petition within four months.

He said the three tribunal decisions, out of four election petitions, had put a big question mark on the credibility of the entire 2013 general elections. The tribunal decisions had vividly exposed “large-scale rigging by the PML-N in league with the ECP and returning officers”.

He said the PTI would be compelled to come on roads if the four provincial election commissioners did not resign.

Mr Tareen said he would contest the by-election.

Mr Sarwar said that the PML-N’s credibility would improve if it made arrangements to legally remove provincial election commissioners.

Ejaz Chaudhry, the PTI chairman’s political adviser, said the PML-N government had now lost all moral grounds to stay in power after exposure of massive rigging in the elections.

He said his party’s long legal struggle had also proved that the ECP did not perform its constitutional duty properly and needed to be punished as per law. Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Khurshid Shah also declared ECP controversial after losing its credibility, he added.

Mr Chaudhry also lambasted Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah for criticising Lahore tribunal judge Kazim Malik, who had given 30 decisions in favour of the PML-N candidates earlier.

The Multan tribunal’s detailed judgment says the National Database and Registration Authority on its direction had reported that it failed to authenticate thumb impressions of 179 voters in NA-154.

According to the report, 218,056 votes polled at 290 stations were received by Nadra for verification, out of which 20,601 votes were cast with invalid Computerised National Identity Card numbers or without them.

Similarly, 121 voters were found to be out of constituency, while there were 728 duplicate votes and 587 votes were without thumb impressions, the report stated.

The Nadra report stated that there were 73,707 votes having authenticated fingerprints, while thumb impressions of only 179 votes could not be authenticated. Nadra, however, could not decipher 122,133 votes that had fingerprints of bad quality due to unavailability of proposed (magnetic) ink, besides other possibilities. However, the CNIC numbers mentioned on counterfoils of those votes were valid.

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

Published in Dawn, August 27th, 2015

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