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KARACHI: The election tribunal on Tuesday reser­v­ed its judgement on an election petition challenging the election of a PPP candidate to NA-200, a National Assem­bly constituency in Ghotki.

The tribunal headed by Dr Zafar Ahmed Khan Sherwani, a former judge of the Sindh High Court, heard the final arguments from the two sides and reserved the pronouncement of a verdict to a date to be later announced by the tribunal’s office.

PPP candidate Ali Gohar Khan Mahar was declared the returned candidate, securing 86, 579 votes, while Khalid Khan Lund, an independent candidate, bagged 76, 615 votes in the last general election.

Mr Lund, who had lost the NA seat to the PPP candidate with the margin of 9,964 votes, moved the election tribunal against the victory of Mr Mahar alleging that massive rigging was committed in the polling.

Over 13,000 votes in the constituency were reported to have been found defective in a manual verification of counterfoils as they did not carry the stamp and signature of the presiding officers.

The manual verification of the counterfoils was conducted by the election tribunal of Karachi on the application of the defeated candidate.

The election petition against the victory of the PPP’s Mahar was initially filed in the election tribunal of Sukkur, which ordered the National Database Registra­tion Authority (Nadra) to verify the thumb impressions of voters on ballots in the 59 polling stations on the application of Mr Lund.

Later, the PPP MNA challenged the tribunal’s order for thumbprints verification in the Sindh High Court. The SHC rejected his petition ruling that the “interlocutory orders impugned by means of the present petition can only be challenged in appeal before the Supreme Court” at the appropriate stage.

Nadra conducted the verification exercise on the tribunal orders and concluded in its report that over 23,000 ballots could not be verified by its system.

Later, the election petition against the election results of NA-200 was shifted to the election tribunal of Karachi after the resignation of the presiding officer of the ET of Sukkur, ZahiruddinLeghari.

Mr Lund, represented by Advocate Zamir Hussain Ghumro, moved an application to the election tribunal for manual verification of the ballots.

The ET accepted his application and called for the relevant record from the Election Commission of Pakistan for manual verification of the ballots, which started on Monday and concluded on Tuesday.

The manual verification of the 23,000 ballots was carried out and 13,000 votes were found defective.

Published in Dawn, August 6th, 2014