LAHORE/KARACHI/ISLAMABAD/PESHAWAR/GUJRAT: The courts were flooded with legal challenges on Saturday as candidates challenged the provisional results in their constituencies in a bid to turn the tide.

A vast majority of those filing such challenges were PTI-backed independents, including high-profile politicians such as Parvez Elahi and his wife Qaisera, former KP finance minister Taimoor Jhagra and ex-KP speaker Mahmood Jan, Islamabad-based lawyer Shuaib Shaheen, former Punjab health minister Dr Yasmin Rashid, as well as Usman Dar’s mother Rehana Dar.

In Lahore, the victories of former PM Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz, Attaullah Tarar and former defence minister Khawaja Asif were assailed in separate petitions before the high court, which allege manipulation of Form 47s.

The petitioners claim that they were successful against their opponents as per the Form 45 handed to them. However, in their absence, their victories were allegedly turned into defeats in the Form 47. The have also alleged collusion in the alteration of election results and demand that the results of Form 47 be prepared according to the Form 45s.

In PP 146 Sialkot, Omar Dar’s wife, Ruba Omar, has challenged the election results. According to Form 45, Ruba Omar had won, but she was evidently defeated in Form 47 due to collusion.

Maryam Nawaz’s victory from NA-119 has been challenged by independent candidate Shahzad Farooq. The presiding officers did not provide Form 45, and the returning officer issued the result in his absence. Shahzad Farooq claims to have won against Maryam Nawaz but was defeated due to rigging.

Atta Tarar’s victory from NA-127 has been challenged by Zahir Abbas Khokhar. Atta Tarar has lost according to Form 45 but declared himself victorious in Form 47 with evident collusion.

In Karachi, three PTI candidates moved the Sindh High Court, arguing that the election watchdog, ROs and others flouted electoral laws and rigged the entire process.

The challengers include PTI provincial chief Haleem Adil Sheikh, Arsalan Khalid and advocate Khalid Mehmood, who contested in NA-238 (East-IV), NA-248 (Central-II) and NA-231 (Malir-III), respectively.

The PTI Sindh president argued that as per the Form 45 obtained by his election agents from all polling stations, he had a clear lead of around 65,000 votes, but MQM-P’s Sadiq Iftikhar was shown as the winner from NA-238 with over 54,000 in the impugned Form 47, while the petitioner was placed on second position with over 36,800 votes.

In Islamabad, Mohammad Shuaib Shaheen — a member of Imran Khan’s legal team — and Mohammad Ali Bukhari have assailed their defeats at the hands of PML-N’s Tariq Fazal Chaudhry and Independent candidate Raja Khurram Shehzad, respectively.

Both the candidates filed the petitions in the IHC, however, the registrar office raised the objection that the petitioner should approach the appropriate forum.

Subsequently, the candidates filed the application with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

The commission summoned the returning officers of the constituencies for Sunday (today).

The petition stated Mr Bukhari contested from NA-48, however, the returning officer forcibly expelled his polling agents from the relevant polling stations, contravening the law.

Consequently, all counting and result preparation occurred in the absence of the petitioner and their appointed agents.

It said that despite verbal complaints from the petitioner and his polling agents, no action was taken.

The Peshawar High Court will take up petitions filed by nine PTI-backed independents, including six former lawmakers, challenging the provisional election results in their respective constituencies.

The hearing will be conducted by a two-member bench consisting of Justice Shakeel Ahmad and Justice Syed Arshad Ali.

The petitioners include former provincial ministers Taimo­­or Saleem Khan Jhagra (PK-79) and Kamran Khan Bangash (PK-82), former deputy speaker of the KP Assembly Mahmood Jan (PK-72), former MNAs Sajid Nawaz Khan (NA-28) and Hamidul Haq (PK-80), former MPA Arbab Jehandad Khan (PK-74), former Peshawar district nazim Mohammad Asim (PK-78) and lawyers Ali Zaman (PK-73) and Malik Shahab (PK-75).

Meanwhile, in Gujrat, the ECP has ordered the Gujrat district returning officer and returning officers of NA-64 and PP-32 (Gujrat and Kunjah) to withhold notifications of returned candidates and conduct final consolidation of the result in the presence of petitioners Qaisara Elahi and Chaudhary Parvez Elahi or their representative.

These orders was issued by three members of the ECP in Islamabad on Saturday after hearing the petitions filed by Qaisara Elahi and her spouse, Chaudhry Parvez Elahi, the PTI candidates from NA-64 and PP-32 respectively.

Qaisara Elahi alleged in her petition that she had been winning the NA-64 seat with a margin of at least 103,262 votes from 262 out of total 359 polling stations but as per the Form 47 issued by the returning officer, NA 64, she secured 80,946 votes while her opponent candidate Chaudhary Salik Hussain has got 105,205 votes due to which she had filed a petition to stop the RO from issuing the final result without consolidation.

The petitioner Parvez Elahi also framed the same issues against the provisional result announced by the concerned RO in PP-32 (Kunjah) as Salik Hussain was earlier declared winner by the RO in the initially issued unofficial results.

The ECP has fixed February 15 as the next date of hearing in the case.

Published in Dawn, February 11th, 2024

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