ISLAMABAD: A private petition has been filed in the Supreme Court on Monday to declare the Feb 8 general elections null and void due to alleged violations of democratic norms and electoral integrity.

Filed by an individual named Ali Khan, the petition urged the court to order new elections within 30 days to be held under the direct supervision and oversight of the judiciary “to ensure fairness, transparency and accountability”.

It also sought a stay order to stop the formation of a new government till the case was decided.

The petition pleaded that the court should order “a thorough and impartial investigation” into the alleged pre-poll rigging, election fraud and misconduct and hold accountable those responsible for undermining the democratic foundations of the nation.

While placing his “utmost trust and confidence” in the judiciary, the petitioner implored it to uphold the principles of justice, equality and democracy and redress the grievances of people over the alleged subversion of their democratic rights.

The elections were marred by gross violations of democratic principles, including the denial of a level-playing field to all political parties, particularly the PTI, the plea alleged.

The imprisonment of PTI founder Imran Khan over “fabricated charges” and the subsequent act of depriving the party of its electoral symbol “sev­er­ely undermined the democratic process”.

In the run-up to the elections, there was widespread pre-poll rigging, with PTI candidates facing numerous obstacles and restrictions in their campaign efforts, the plea argued.

The ban on rallies and public gatherings for PTI, along with the prohibition on campaigning and voter persuasion, “dep­ri­ved the party of its fundamental right to engage with the electorate” and present its vision and policies.

Despite a significant turnout of voters in support of PTI on election day, the petition claimed the announcement of results was “unnecessarily delayed” by returning officers, raising serious concerns about the integrity and transparency of the electoral process.

It added that the subsequent revelation of widespread rigging and manipulation, resulting in the “fraudulent” def­eat of numerous PTI candidates, further undermined the election’s credibility.

The petitioner pleaded that the consolidation of power by political entities with a history of alleged misgovernance, corruption and incompetence poses a grave threat to democratic governan­ce and national stability.

Allowing the “perpetrators of electoral malpractice” to ascend to positions of authority not only undermines the will of the people but also jeopardises the future of Pakistan as a functioning democracy.

Published in Dawn, February 13th, 2024

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