LAHORE: Leaders of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) said on Saturday the Lahore election tribunal’s decision against National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq had vindicated their stance that the 2013 general elections were rigged and called for strict action against all those involved.

Speaking to Dawn, PTI’s central organiser Jahangir Khan Tareen pointed out that the election tribunal’s decisions with regard to rigging allegations in two of the four key constituencies were now in favour of the PTI.

He said PTI Chairman Imran Khan had written a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner urging him to identify all those who committed irregularities and “rigging” in the elections and launch criminal proceedings against them.

Mr Khan, he said, had announced that the PTI would stage a sit-in in front of offices of the Election Commission of Pakistan if the complaints against the officials concerned were not addressed within the next two weeks.

Soon after the general elections, the PTI chief had called for an inquiry into four constituencies where he claimed large-scale rigging had taken place. Of these, the seats in Lahore were of considerable importance.

The assertion was that the PML-N was particularly possessive about Lahore, the Sharifs hometown, and wanted to retain the city at any cost.

Elections on two Lahore seats — NA-122 and NA-125 — have now been declared to have been so grossly affected by irregularities that re-election has been deemed by the tribunal to be unavoidable there.

Meanwhile, there still are legal battles ahead for PTI. Mr Sadiq, who had been declared the winner from NA-122 against Mr Khan in a result that had surprised many, is going to move the Supreme Court against the ruling of the tribunal.

Politically, however, the PTI will be hoping that the vindication of its stance on rigging will prove to be permanent, notwithstanding any setback it may suffer in the Supreme Court.

The PTI’s defence against the judicial commission’s validation of the election results has been built around similar lines. The party has accepted the commission’s verdict on a formal level but it is otherwise heard declaring that the ruling was adversely affected by its terms of reference which prevented a fair investigation.

Many PTI leaders indicate that this is the line they will take as they plead their case among the people. They also believe that this is more than a moral victory for PTI. This is going to have real impact on the national politics and may lead to a revival of Mr Khan’s fortunes in his fight against those who are in power ‘by deceit’.

Published in Dawn, August 23rd, 2015

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