PK-95 by-polls: PHC sets aside ECP decision to nullify Lower Dir results

Commission directed to issue notification in favour of JI candidate


Our Correspondent March 10, 2016
Peshawar High Court. PHOTO: PPI

PESHAWAR: Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel has set aside the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) decision to nullify by-poll results of PK-95, Lower Dir-II and hold re-elections.

The ECP was directed to issue a notification in favour of Jamaat-e-Islami’s PK-95 candidate Aizazul Mulk Afkari.

The high court had reserved its judgment on the matter on February 11 when a bench comprising Miankhel was hearing a petition filed by Afkari.

Suffrage

The constituency fell vacant after Jamaat-e-Islami chief Sirajul Haq was elected to the Senate in March 2015. As a result, by-polls were held on May 7. Afkari emerged victorious after edging out Awami National Party’s Haji Bahadar Khan. The JI candidate bagged 20,888 votes. However, 12 women filed a petition with the high court, saying many women had not been allowed to vote in the by-polls. They asked the court to declare the election null and void and unseat Afkari.

Blame it on culture

During the previous hearing, Afkari’s lawyer Ghulam Mohiuddin Malik said women voluntarily abstained from voting in the May 7 by-polls. He said civil society members alleged around 53,000 women were registered but were not given the right to vote, based on an agreement between local elders. He denied allegations made by activists that 38% of the population was not allowed to vote to influence elections results.

The lawyer added the constituency is located on the border of Afghanistan where women do not vote due to cultural values.

Not backing down

A large number of rights groups and activists have thrown their weight behind the ECP’s decision to nullifying the results of the polls. Rakshanda Naz, a rights activist, told The Express Tribune, “We will approach the Supreme Court.”

Calling it quits

JI MPA from PK-92, Upper Dir-II Mohammad Ali has resigned as parliamentary secretary. Ali said he took the step for “personal reasons” as he had little to do under his portfolio.  However, party insiders told The Express Tribune, Afkari is likely to be given the same portfolio once he takes up the MPA mantle.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 11th, 2016.

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