LAHORE: Challenging the validity of 29,000 ‘unverified’ votes of the NA-120 constituency in Lahore, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf requested the Election Commission of Pakistan on Monday to withhold the result of Sunday’s by-election till the settlement of the issue.
PTI candidate Dr Yasmin Rashid lost the by-election by over 14,000 votes.
Speaking at a news conference, she said she had raised the issue before the polling. “We have been contesting this issue for 10 days in the ECP and also moved the Lahore High Court (LHC) on the matter. Justice Ayesha Malik had also directed the commission to verify all votes with NADRA (National Database and Registration Authority) data but the ECP did not pay attention to the court orders,” she said. Over 29,000 voters on the list neither had family numbers nor Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC) numbers, she added.
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Rashid said she had approached the ECP in the first phase, in accordance with the Constitution, to fix this matter. If the ECP failed to provide justice to her, she would take the case to a court, she said. She underscored that the commission should not announce the by-election result till it validated the unverified votes.
The PTI leader announced that she had also decided to approach Justice Malik with the information that the ECP had not taken any action on her orders. “As many as 25 petitions are pending at different forums. How the commission can announce result of NA-120 by-polls,” she wondered.
Though the commission had executive powers, it did not take action against the ruling party’s office-holders involved in electioneering in the constituency, except issuing notice, she complained.
“A couple of days before the polling, when PTI Chairman Imran Khan announced his plan to visit Data Darbar, the ECP directed the Lahore deputy commissioner to bar all rallies on The Mall road. The ECP has played a partisan role in the NA-120 by-election, as the ruling party carried out in the constituency development projects costing around Rs1 billion after the announcement of the election schedule,” the PTI candidate alleged. She asked what action had been taken by the ECP in this regard.
Rashid alleged that the state television and resources were used for electioneering for the ruling party’s candidate. She also alleged that Zakat committee chairpersons had been asked to tell the poor beneficiaries that their stipends would be discontinued if they voted against the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.
She said PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz should be thankful to her party’s ministers, mayors and union council chairpersons for using all possible tactics to ‘rig’ the by-election. She alleged that ministers had promised jobs, bribed voters and spent millions of rupees from the development budget to buy the election for former first lady and ruling party candidate Kulsoom Nawaz.
Rashid claimed that the election’s outcome indicated that the ruling party had lost credibility and people had rejected its ‘corruption’.
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