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May 3, 2014

Imran harping on poll rigging for political gains

May 3, 2014


ISLAMABAD: The allegation of poll rigging by chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has either been firmly rejected by legal forums or is pending disposal in election tribunals, but he keeps harping on it for political gains, record shows.
Imran Khan took a full one year to reach the conclusion and that too after the post-assassination attempt on eminent anchor Hamid Mir that Geo was also a part of the electoral manipulation against him. He has never before accused the TV network of such connivance with such ferocity.
A most telling comment on Imran Khan’s rigging allegation has been made by prominent lawyer Athar Minallah, who said in a tweet: “Rigging on election day is extremely difficult. Musharraf & Zia having absolute power could not have results of choice.”
Although, Imran Khan and his party’s defeated candidates have also knocked on the door of the Supreme Court alleging election rigging, their pleas got no positive response as they attempted to bypass the laid down legal process.
On the very outset, the PTI chief alleged that the role played by the judiciary was “sharamnak” (shameful). When he was issued a contempt notice by the Supreme Court, he changed his formulation and said that he meant the returning officers (ROs) and not the judiciary. The notice was disposed of.
Imran Khan also released a white paper on polls rigging, which contained reports of an NGO that monitored the general elections. However, criminal cases were registered against the organisation in different areas for the misleading report.
There was no allegation against Geo in this white paper. Rather, it contained Geo’s coverage of elections as a proof in support of Imran Khan’s claims on rigging.
The PTI filed just 61 petitions in the election tribunals, challenging the defeat of its candidates. The number of such pleas did not match its past and present protest. Of these petitions, its 31 nominees called into question the National Assembly seats;

25 Punjab Assembly seats; three Sindh Assembly seats and one seat each of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Balochistan assemblies. A total of 402 defeated candidates belonging to all the political parties submitted such petitions.
Ignoring the petitions filed by his candidates in the election tribunals, Imran Khan directly approached the apex court requesting it to order thumb verification in certain constituencies.
According to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) record, the PTI had either no candidate or its contestants got their security deposits confiscated on 50 percent National Assembly seats of Punjab.
The election results in the majority province obviously play a crucial role as to who will rule at the federal level. Imran Khan’s rigging allegation revolves around this province.
The security deposit of PTI representatives was forfeited in 55 National Assembly constituencies in Punjab. They included 64, 65, 67, 74, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 89, 90, 92, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 104, 108, 109, 114, 115, 116, 132, 134, 137, 138, 139, 141, 142, 144, 145, 146, 147, 153, 156, 163, 171, 174, 175, 176, 177, 179, 180, 181, 182, 183, 185, 187, 188, 191, 192, 193, 194 and 195.
The PTI did not sponsor its candidates for 10 constituencies, including NA 55, 73, 83, 87, 88, 91, 94, 103, 143 and 184.
In December last, the Supreme Court disposed of an election petition filed by senior PTI leader Jehangir Tareen terming it against the rules at a point of time when the same was pending before a tribunal. The court remarked that former Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhannad Chaudhry had already issued directions to the tribunal for an expeditious disposal of the case.
The case was heard by a three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, and comprised Justice Amir Hani Muslim and Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan.
In March last year, the Supreme Court disposed of a petition filed by defeated PTI candidate Abrarul Haq on rigging in his constituency NA-117, Narowal. The court said that if he has any kind of grievances or objections to the polling results, he should consult the election tribunal and dismissed his plea.
Also in December last, election tribunal judge Kazim Ali Malik opted out after narrating in black and white the entire tale as to how he was disgraced by lawyers representing Hamid Khan, who wanted him to order the National Database & Registration Authority (Nadra) to verify the thumb impressions of votes cast in NA-125, Lahore, where he faced defeat.
When the judge asked his lawyers for examination of witnesses, as required under the law, they started using abusive and indecent language against the judge, who wrote in his order that they wanted to dictate to the tribunal, which he would never allow.
“The learned counsel for the petitioner has uttered abusive and indecent remarks about the election tribunal, Lahore, offensive to all the recognised and established norms of professional decency. It is painful to bring on record that I joined Judicial Service as additional district & session’s judge in the year 1987 and my service career remained before the Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan, Honourable Lahore High Court and the lawyers community like mid-day sun, but learned counsel for the petitioner has chosen to assault and attack my integrity and impartiality just for some political gain. I am unable to approve of such non-professional attitude/behaviour/conduct of the learned counsel for the petitioner,” the judge lamented.
He wrote that the counsel of Hamid Khan attempted to force and compel the tribunal to allow the request for comparison of thumb impressions without examining the witnesses. “It is difficult for the Election Tribunal to allow the request for comparison of thumb impressions on the basis of stance of the petitioner set up in the election petition because contents of the election petition or the allegations set up therein cannot be termed legal evidence,” said the order.
“It is true that it is prerogative of petitioner’s learned counsel to prosecute the cause of his client, but he cannot regulate and control the proceedings of the Election Tribunal. I am pained to say that the learned counsel has attempted to dictate to the Election Tribunal and after having failed to do so, he has shouted and thus disregarded norms of professional decency. I have simply asked the learned counsel for the petitioner to examine witnesses on oath, present before the Tribunal in support of the allegation of voting through impersonation set up in the election petition and then agitate the request for comparison of thumb impressions of the voters, which have provoked him to such an extent that he, along with other lawyers, opted to insult and disgrace the Election Tribunal by using foul and indecent words. In fact, learned counsel for the petitioner and his two colleagues, who have come as witnesses, want to control and regulate the proceedings of this Tribunal according to their choice. So long as I am allowed to hold the office of Election Tribunal, I would not mortgage my official functions and legal duties to the parties of election disputes or their learned counsel.”
The judge wrote that for the first time in his professional life, he earned the motivated insult and criticism and that too from those who were under legal obligation to conduct themselves. “My resignation would amount to yielding before those who want mode of trial of election disputes of their choice. With these observations, I exercise a restraint and do not initiate contempt proceedings against all those who have played havoc with the system.”




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