ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Thursday decided that the government would challenge in the Supreme Court the decision of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to order re-polling in NA-75, Daska.
The cabinet meeting, presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan, discussed the ECP decision in detail and expressed dissatisfaction over the commission’s ruling.
“We have decided to challenge the ECP decision in the Supreme Court,” said chairman of PM’s Kamyab Naujawan Programme Usman Dar.
“We will fight for our legal rights as the people of the area voted for us and we will fight for their rights,” Mr Dar said.
Usman Dar says PTI to fight for its voters’ rights
He said that returning officers in their reports had not mentioned that irregularities had taken place in the constituency of NA-75, but only in 20 to 23 polling stations.
Mr Usman asked why re-polling in the entire constituency of NA-75, Daska, had been ordered instead of just 23 polling stations where the alleged irregularities had taken place.
Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced that the government would have no objection if re-polling was ordered in 20 controversial polling stations.
Interestingly, Mr Dar in a press conference held shortly before the ECP’s decision had said that the government would accept whatever decision the commission would announce, but after the ECP announced re-polling in the entire constituency, he said the government would challenge the commission’s move in the Supreme Court. He said it would be injustice with the people of Daska if re-election was held in all 320 polling stations of NA-75.
Interestingly, unlike the past practice, no official press release was issued by the government regarding details and decisions of the federal cabinet and no post-cabinet meeting press conference was held by Information Minister Shibli Faraz.
However, the information minister made a tweet after the cabinet meeting in which he only said: “Senate elections also came under discussion during the cabinet meeting.”
Earlier, SAPM on Political Affairs Shahbaz Gill told Dawn after a press conference that the decision of the ECP was evident of the fact that institutions were working independently in the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government.
When asked had not the entire narrative of the PTI’s fair and free elections, for which it staged the 124-day sit-in in 2014 in Islamabad, collapsed after the ECP endorsed the opposition’s point of view of that rigging had been committed by the ruling party in NA-75, Daska, Mr Gill said that some irregularities might have occurred at village and town level, but it did not mean the entire PTI was involved in the wrongdoing.
He said the PTI had been pressing hard for a long time to ensure transparency in polls by introducing e-voting system and through other tools. “Now Daska polls episode is a lesson for all of us to streamline the election process and make it more fair and transparent,” he said.
Published in Dawn, February 26th, 2021