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August 27, 2015

NA-154 Lodhran polls also declared void

Top Story

 
August 27, 2015

MULTAN: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) lost its third wicket on Wednesday as the Election Tribunal judge Justice (retd) Rana Zahid Mehmood declared the election in NA-154 Lodhran null and void and ordered a re-election.
After the Election Tribunal’s judgment, jubilant Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) workers celebrated the victory by raising slogans and dancing.
Siddique Khan Baloch — an independent candidate — had won the National Assembly seat in the 2013 general elections and later joined the PML-N.
Baloch was disqualified for his lifetime for violating articles 62, 63 by submitting a fake degree and on rigging charges. Azhar Kamlana, counsel for PTI leader Jehangir Tareen, said Baloch was disqualified under Section 76 of the Representation of the People’s Act for having a fake degree.
The tribunal declared the NA-154 election null and void on the Nadra report which mentioned the use of 20,600 fake CNICs in the elections, he added.
Justice (retd) Zahid Mehmood issued the verdict on the petition filed by the runner-up candidate Jehangir Tareen who had challenged the whole election besides Baloch’s degree. The detailed judgment would be issued later.
Talking to journalists, Jehangir Tareen thanked his supporters and party workers for the support they had extended to the party. He also greeted them on the completion of PTI’s ‘hat-trick’ as the election tribunals had already de-seated PML-N stalwarts — Khawaja Saad Rafique and Sardar Ayaz Sadiq.
Later, Tareen at a press conference said the PTI had decided to stage a sit-in led by the party Chairman Imran Khan before the decision on NA-118, hoping that the fourth wicket would also fall soon.
He demanded sacking of all the four district returning officers of the constituencies where election tribunals had ordered re-election. The verdict was expected in 120 days but it had been delayed for a long time, he added.
Tareen said a common man could not contest the election because of the strong grip of establishment. He said the prime demand of the PTI was the reopening of four constituencies and re-election had been ordered in three of them.
He claimed that the whole election process was rigged and the tactics applied in the four constituencies were exercised in all the constituencies. The Judicial Commission’s proceedings were questionable, he added.
He also condemned Minister for Information ad Broadcasting Pervaiz Rashid and Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah for threatening election tribunal judge Justice (retd) Kazim Malik.
Earlier in the day, tight security measures were adopted around the Election Tribunal’s office in the Shah Rukn-e-Alam Colony to avert any untoward incident; however, the PML-N and PTI workers scuffled outside the premises before the announcement of the verdict.
Jehangir Tareen, accompanied by a large number of workers, reached the Election Tribunal before noon. As they chanted slogans, the PML-N workers called their friends for showing their power and responding to the PTI slogans.
It is worth noting that the people from both the sides had started gathering at the spot since 9:00am, with most of them coming from Lodhran. Baloch could not arrive on the premises due to backache and sent his son. The environment became tense with the passage of time as the PML-N and PTI workers chanted slogans against one another.
Later, a scuffle broke out in which at least five people received minor injuries just before the judgment. City Police Officer (CPO) Azhar Ikram said that the law and order situation was well under control and they took timely action to avert the clash.
PTI District President Ijaz Janjua claimed that the situation became worse when the PML-N activists broke the bats and chanted slogans against Imran Khan and other party leaders.
The PML-N district president, Bilal Butt, however, rejected the allegations and said the PTI workers aggressively insulted the PML-N leaders and attacked his party’s peaceful workers.
Baloch had won the election by obtaining 86,177 out of the total 235,938 votes polled in the 2013 general elections, while Jehangir Tareen bagged 75,955 votes with PML-N candidate Rafiquddin Bukhari bagging 45,635 votes. The turnout was 67.4 percent.
Later, the winning candidate joined the PML-N, but Tareen rejected the result and filed a petition for recounting of votes.
The district returning officer conducted the recounting after which Baloch’s lead increased by 1,000 votes. But Tareen also rejected the recounting and filed a petition in the Election Tribunal, stating that the election was rigged. He also challenged the academic degree of his opponent.
The Election Tribunal reserved the judgment on the last hearing (August 22) and fixed August 26 (Wednesday) for the announcement of the verdict.
Online adds: Baloch told a private TV channel on Wednesday that he had reservations over his disqualification. He was elected from NA-154, Lodhran, after free and fair elections and he had a genuine degree, Baloch added.
“I am ready to accept every punishment if my degree is found to be bogus,” he said.
He said he would quit politics if the Supreme Court declared his degree fake and would accept the party’s decision on the way forward.
Shah Mehmood Qureshi in his reaction announced plans to hold celebrations in Lahore and said the disqualification of Baloch had put a big question mark on members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed said the days of the government were numbered and it would not be able to complete its five-year term.