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Sunday April 14, 2024

Supreme Court throws out petition seeking re-election

"I have never seen this before," CJP Isa says while questioning if petition was filed as part of any conspiracy

By Maryam Nawaz
February 21, 2024
A view of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. — SC website/File
A view of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. — SC website/File

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) Wednesday threw out a plea seeking re-election and annulment of the February 8 polls over the issue of alleged rigging.

A three-member SC bench led by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa, comprising Justice Musarrat Hilali and Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, conducted the hearing on Brig (retd) Ali Khan's petition and imposed a fine of Rs500,000 on the petitioner over his failure to appear before the court.

The development comes in the backdrop of concerns raised by several political parties including the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Jamaat-e-Islami and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-over the transparency and alleged result manipulation regarding the general elections.

Doubts over the polls were further exacerbated by the revelations made by now-former Rawalpindi Division commissioner Liaqat Chatha, who on Saturday, tendered his resignation out of "guilty conscience" for abetting large-scale electoral rigging in the garrison city further raising the political mercury in the country.

During the hearing today, the CJP inquired about the identity of the petitioner. To this, the court was apprised that the applicant is a former military officer who was court-martialed in 2012.

"The state should ensure that a court-martialed person does not use the rank of brigadier," the court remarked.

Apprising the court on the attempts to establish contact with the petitioner, the additional attorney general said that not only was the police sent to Khan's house but the Ministry of Defence also had sent a notice — which then was displayed on the gate as the petitioner was unavailable.

"Look at this petitioner [who] left the country after filing the application in the court," the chief justice said while commenting on the former military officer's email regarding him being out of the country.

"I have never seen this before," CJP Isa remarked while questioning if it was a conspiracy that the petitioner fled the country after moving the apex court.

Meanwhile, Justice Mazhar underscored that as per the petitioner himself, he neither spoke to any media outlet nor filed the application.

It is pertinent to mention that political parties are not the only ones with reservations over the transparency of polls as the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has also raised concerns about the reliability and trustworthiness of the general elections — especially the post-polling process.