ISLAMABAD: The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is likely to opt for by-election or finally decide otherwise in Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique’s National Assembly constituency, NA-125 Lahore, after seeing the results of the by-polls for NA-122 and NA-154 seats.It is in no hurry to ask Saad Rafique to resign
ISLAMABAD: The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is likely to opt for by-election or finally decide otherwise in Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique’s National Assembly constituency, NA-125 Lahore, after seeing the results of the by-polls for NA-122 and NA-154 seats. It is in no hurry to ask Saad Rafique to resign his National Assembly seat paving the way for the by-election to his constituency from where he was unseated by an election tribunal, a senior cabinet source told The News. He said that since Saad Rafique has got a stay order from the Supreme Court against the tribunal’s ruling, the minister will avail this facility till the two by-elections are over. “We don’t have the compulsion to hold by-poll for NA-125. In the case of NA-122 and NA-154, we decided to go for by-elections on our own, foregoing our right to appeal. We had a solid case to call for suspension of the decisions of the tribunals, but we refrained from knocking the doors of the Supreme Court,” the source said. Therefore, he said, only two by-polls will be held on October 11 as per the schedule announced by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the decision to go to the people’s court about Saad Rafique’s constituency will be taken later. It is believed that the PML-N’s determination for NA-125 will hinge upon the response of the electorate to its policies in the Lahore and Lodhran by-elections. The source said that at the very outset, Saad Rafique had insisted that he wanted fresh mandate instead of seeking relief from the apex court but the PML-N concluded that he should avail the legal option so that a bad precedent of unseating of the returned candidates on the basis of irregularities and faults of the ECP was not set. The PML-N obviously wants to diffuse the pressure that it faced from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) due to the ouster of its elected representatives by the tribunals chiefly on account of irregularities and not due to rigging. Like Saad Rafique, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, who was the National Assembly speaker when he was unseated by the tribunal headed by Kazim Ali Malik, had clearly stated after the verdict that he wishes fresh election to NA-122 instead of approaching the Supreme Court. He too was knocked out by the tribunal owing to the ECP’s faux pas. The tribunal’s decision on the PTI’s election petition against Saad Rafique was pronounced before the rulings on its similar pleas against Ayaz Sadiq and Siddique Baloch, which were handed down in a quick succession, creating a difficult situation for the PML-N. However, the PML-N quickly grappled with this state by deciding to hold by-elections and not appealing against the judgment in the Supreme Court. The NA-122, NA-125 and NA-154 represent the same seats which were included among the four constituencies whose results PTI Chairman Imran Khan had been disputing since long, demanding scrutiny of their polling records. As it happened, the decisions of the tribunals favoured him in these three constituencies. However, the fourth seat, NA-110 Sialkot, figuring in his list, is in litigation in the Supreme Court. The petition filed by PTI nominee Usman Dar against Defence Minister Khawaja M Asif had been dismissed by the election tribunal for want of his interest to pursue it. In its judgment, the tribunal had written that the way Dar avoided to enter the witness box and disregarded its directions on the pretext of business tour abroad, provides a basis to infer that he is no more interested in the matter. Costs of adjournments to the tune of Rs30,000 have not been paid by him till date. It appears that after filing the election petition, Dar lost interest and then attempted to prolong the trial, the ruling said adding that he failed to prove the allegations. It has been an established norm and practice that an elected representative thrown out by the election tribunal always rushes to a superior court for suspension of the ruling against him and gets a stay order. Always, the appeals lingered so much that even the term of the concerned assembly expires but the plea remain pending decision. The MP successfully exhausts his tenure on the stay order. There is no example in the recent parliamentary history when a political party whose MPs have ousted by the election tribunals had chosen for fresh elections instead of getting relief from a superior court. If, in the present case, the PML-N’s bold decision shows its confidence about its public standing, it is also meant to release pressure.