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ISLAMABAD, May 17: The Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi bench on Friday disposed of a petition filed against the re-counting of votes in NA-57 (Attock), and referred the matter to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). However, the ECP, after examining the LHC order, dismissed the request for re-counting of votes despite having ordered it earlier.

The petition in LHC had been filed by Sheikh Aftab Ahmed, the newly elected Member National Assembly (MNA) from NA-57 from the Pakistan Muslim League-N.

Malik Amin Aslam, the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf candidate who lost to Sheikh Aftab, had approached the ECP for re-counting, and the commission had on Wednesday ordered that the votes be re-counted in the constituency.

However, the LHC had stayed the ECP order on Thursday.

Sheikh Aftab, through his counsel Ahsanuddin Sheikh, contended before the LHC Justice Chaudhry Ejaz Ahmed that the PTI candidate had not pointed out any irregularity in the election process, and had not provided any evidence against the counting of votes.

He said the ECP had ordered for re-counting of votes without issuing a notice to the winning candidate (Sheikh Aftab) or hearing his arguments, which was against the basic principles of justice.

“Since there was no ground mentioned in the election petition of Malik Amin Aslam which could justify re-counting, the ECP order for re-counting is also illegal,” he claimed.

On the other hand, Tanvir Iqbal, the counsel of Malik Amin Aslam said his client could have won the election if the counting had been conducted in a fair and transparent manner.

He said the ECP, after thoroughly scrutinising the election petition of Malik Amin Aslam, had ordered for re-counting and it could not be set aside.

The LHC, after hearing both parties, set aside the ECP orders but referred the matter back to the ECP with directions to decide the fate of Malik Amin Aslam’s petition after hearing both sides.

However, in the afternoon, the ECP bench, comprising Justice (retired) Riaz Kiyani and Justice (retired) Fazalur Rehman, took up the matter and after hearing counsels of both sides, dismissed the petition for re-counting of votes filed by PTI’s Amin Aslam.

It may be mentioned that during the May 11 elections, Sheikh Aftab of the PML-N had secured 60,000 votes against Malik Amin Aslam’s 40,000.

ATTOCK: Regarding the ECP decision, Malik Amin Aslam, while talking to newsmen here on Friday, said he had tried to convince the ECP to order the re-counting of votes.

“The move is unexpected. The ECP had allowed re-counting two days ago. What happened now?” he said, adding that the decision had caused great disappointment as re-counting was his legal right.

He said it was unfair to him and the voters in the constituency, and the media had witnessed it.

“It proves that pre-planned systematic rigging is occurring. If the ECP is not in a position to address the complaints, why was a huge amount of public exchequer spent on preparing picture-based voters’ lists and thumb impressions, with the sole aim of verifying voters?” he said.

Mr Aslam said the ECP was trying to hide flaws in the electoral process, thus negating the real mandate of the public.

He said he would discuss the issue with the party leadership, as 25 other constituencies were facing a similar issue.