MULTAN: 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 NA-154 (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 PML-N'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 re-polling in NA-122, declaring the election in the constituency null and void.
Know more: ECP de-notifies Ayaz Sadiq
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 NA-125 election and ordered a re-poll on the seat won by Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique.
Take a look: ECP denotifies Saad Rafique
Verdict proves I should have been a MNA, says Jahangir Tareen
Addressing a press conference in Multan, PTI leader Jahangir Khan Tareen said that, "This verdict proves that I should have been a Member of the National Assembly after the 2013 general elections."
He congratulated party chairman Imran Khan 'as it is his efforts that had resulted in the fall of PML-N's third wicket'.
"I demand that the four provincial election commissioners step down from their posts after the third announcement of the election commission's tribunal regarding the rigging charges in the four constituencies highlighted by Imran Khan," the former secrerary general of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf said.
He added, "What is to stop the ECP officials from performing the same way in the upcoming by-polls and local government elections. As long as these officials are not held accountable, democracy cannot flourish in Pakistan."
Referring to the ECP's assertion, that it was not answerable to the PTI, Tareen said that the commission is answerable to the citizens of Pakistan and the political parties are the representatives of the citizens. He further said that, "We will make the ECP answerable to us."
Jahangir Khan Tareen also said, "We will not wait for the verdict of the fourth constituency as the hat-trick has been completed and will continue our protests against the Election Commission of Pakistan as per our democratic right."
ECP members should resign before by-polls: Qureshi
Talking to DawnNews, PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi said: “before gearing up for by-polls, PTI wants the ECP members to tender their resignations.”
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.
Responding to a question that whether the PTI will take to the streets to demand resignations from ECP members, Qureshi said, “we can only suggest and request, we can’t order or force them”.
PTI thinks that ECP, as an institution, should be trusted by all political parties and if due to any reason this trust is lost then its ethical of the ECP members to resign to uphold and strengthen democracy, said Qureshi.
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.
|Reham Khan tweeted about the election tribunal's verdict, saying that it was a hat-trick scored by her husband Imran Khan.|
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.
Read more: Nadra report vindicates PTI stance: Tareen
In its report submitted to the tribunal, the Nadra revealed that it failed to authenticate the thumb impressions of 179 voters in NA-154.
According to the report, 218,056 votes cast at 290 polling stations were received by Nadra from the election tribunal for verification, out of which 20,601 were polled with invalid CNICs or without identity cards.
Similarly, 121 voters were found to be out of constituency, while there were 728 duplicate votes and 587 were without thumb impressions, the report said.
It said 73,707 votes had authenticated fingerprints while thumb impressions on 179 votes could not be verified.
Nadra could not decipher 122,133 votes that were having fingerprints of bad quality due to unavailability of proposed (magnetic) ink, besides other possibilities. However, CNIC numbers mentioned on counterfoils of these votes having bad thumb impressions were valid.
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.