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January 28, 2016

Fate of some key MPs still hanging in balance

Top Story

January 28, 2016

SC orders verification of votes of Khawaja Asif and Khawaja Saad Rafique in 2013 general elections

ISLAMABAD: Even after thirty months, the 2013 general elections blues continue to haunt the political landscape with the fate of some key MPs still hanging in balance.

In majority cases, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is the challenger. It has won some crucial court battles but has also lost some others. The National Assembly memberships of two key federal ministers – Khawaja M Asif and Khawaja Saad Rafique – have been put on the line.

The Supreme Court has ordered verification of votes in NA-125 Lahore constituency that Saad Rafique had won in 2013 but he  was unseated by the election tribunal on a petition of the PTI’s losing candidate, Hamid Khan. The Railways Minister’s appeal is being heard by the apex court and he is surviving as an MP on the stay order like many others belonging to different political parties.

The court has now directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to send counterfoils of NA-125 ballots to the National Database & Registration Authority (Nadra) for thumb prints verification. Hamid Khan will bear the expenses incurred on the exercise. The court would decide the appeal on receipt of the Nadra report.

Chief Justice Zaheer Jamali, who headed the bench, observed that the elections were held on May 11, 2013, and asked if conducting the scrutiny after a long time would not spoil the sanctity of the vote.

In another important case, the Supreme Court (SC) has also called for vote verification in the NA-110 Sialkot constituency from which Khawaja Asif was elected in 2013. The petition of the PTI’s loser, Usman Dar, had been dismissed by the election tribunal due to his disinterest in pursing it long time ago. However, he has got relief from the apex court in the sense that votes’ verification has been ordered.

Another important development took place when an election tribunal dismissed a plea of PTI’s Abdul Aleem Khan against Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq in which he had alleged that as many as 30,000 votes were transferred to NA-122 from other constituencies before the by-poll to this seat. He also alleged rigging.

However, it is a known fact and is also provided in the law that it is the job of the ECP to transfer votes from one constituency to another only on the written requests of the concerned voters, and no contesting candidate has any say in this affair. Aleem Khan has vowed to challenge the tribunal ruling in the Supreme Court. So, the show will continue.

This means that the woes of Ayaz Sadiq are still not over despite the fact that he has won NA-122 twice in twenty-nine months, once defeating PTI Chairman Imran Khan in 2013 and then Aleem Khan in 2014 with various margins. His victory lead was around 9,000 votes for the first time while it was nearly 2,400 votes in 2014.

Yet another major judgement came from the apex court when it unseated Justice (R) Iftikhar Cheema of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) from NA-101 Gujranwala. It was really embarrassing for Cheema for the mere fact that he is also a former judge of the Lahore High Court. It appears that he had not paid the due attention while noting down personal facts in his nomination papers otherwise he would have escaped the present chagrin.

Since Cheema has not been disqualified and just unseated, he has announced to contest the by-election to NA-101. He is going to get the PML-N ticket. This time, he will hopefully be more careful while stating facts about himself and his spouse.

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