• Hears Elahi’s request for re-polling, reserves verdict on plea assailing Balochistan CM’s victory
• Commission to take up PTI intra-party polls case today

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commis­sion of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday gave lawmakers who have failed to submit statements of assets and liabilities for 2022-23 a last chance to meet the mandatory legal requirement.

A four-member bench of the Commission, headed by Member Sindh Nisar Ahmed Durrani, warned that the sitting lawmakers will face suspension and those who were no more members of parliament of any assembly will be disqualified if they fail to submit their statements of assets and liabilities.

The bench was informed that as many as 125 lawmakers had been issued notices, of which 46 submitted their statements of assets and liabilities while 79 were yet to file the same.

Mr Durrani ordered issuance of fresh notices to those who were yet to meet the legal requirement. ECP Member from Punjab Babar Hasan Bharwana said those who were still members of the National or provincial assemblies should be issued final notices.

Giving a last chance to defaulting lawmakers, the ECP adjourned the hearing till June 11. Prominent among those to have been issued notices included Mar­riyum Aurangzeb, Rana Sanaullah, Khu­r­ram Dastgir, Tariq Basheer Cheema, Mohsin Shah Nawaz Ranjha, Raja Riaz, Javed Latif and Ali Musa Gilani.

Elahi’s plea for re-poll

The ECP also took up for hearing former Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi’s plea for a re-poll in PP-32.

Mr Elahi’s counsel, while appearing before the bench headed by Nisar Durrani, said that massive rigging took place in the by-election of PP-32, Gujrat.

He claimed that votes of a large number of deceased persons had been polled in the election. He also submitted some documents with the ECP and called for an inquiry into the matter.

Later, the bench adjourned the hearing of the petition till June 4.

The PTI leader had moved the Election Commission against rigging in the PP-32 by-election.

Section 9(1) of the Elections Act empowers the poll body to nullify the election result and order re-polling in any constituency if the ECP is satisfied that grave irregularities have taken place in the related election or turnout of women voters is less than 10 per cent of the total votes polled in the constituency.

In his petition, Mr Elahi pleaded that women voters’ turnout of less than 10 per cent was recorded at 18 polling stations of PP-32 in April 21 by-election. He also alleged that massive rigging took place in the PP-32 constituency by-election. Mr Elahi earlier contested the Feb 8 general elections from jail against Mr Salik Hussain of PML-Q.

Mr Elahi’s wife, Qaisara Elahi, was PTI-backed candidate for National Assembly’s seat of NA-64, Gujrat, against Mr Salik Hussain of PML-Q in general elections. Both lost to Mr Salik Hussain amid rigging allegations. Mr Salik Hussain retained NA-64 seat and vacated PP-32, which Chaudhry Musa Elahi of PML-Q won in April 21 by-elections.

Plea against CM Bugti

The ECP also reserved verdict on ex-MPA Gohram Bugti’s plea for referral of his petition challenging the victory of Balochistan Chief Minister Sarfraz Bugti from PB-10 to another tribunal.

The Election Commission bench heard the matter. During the hearing, Mr Gohram Bugti’s lawyer sought referral of the election plea to another tribunal. Mr Sarfraz Bugti’s lawyer opposed transfer of the case to another tribunal and reje­cted objections raised by the rival side. To this, the Election Commission bench reserved its verdict on the petition.

Jamhoori Watan Party’s leader Gohram Bugti has challenged Sarfaraz Bugti’s election victory in the tribunal and has questioned the validity of his election win from the PB-10 constituency of Dera Bugti. The petitioner contended that as a minister of the caretaker cabinet he could not have contested the election.

Intra-party polls case

Meanwhile, the ECP is expected to take up for hearing on Thursday a case involving objections against the third intra-party elections held by PTI in less than two years.

The commission has already issued notices to PTI Chairman Barrister Gohar Ali Khan and Raoof Hasan, who was the election commissioner in the party’s intra-party polls conducted on March 3.

The notice seeks PTI’s response to the commission’s inquiry into the internal electoral process. The ECP had shared a detailed questionnaire with PTI seeking information about the party’s intra-party elections.

Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2024

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