Looming uncertainty: ECP told to hold results of two NA, one PS seats

Published: August 7, 2018
From left to right: PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif and PTI leader Faisal Vawda. PHOTO: FILE

From left to right: PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif and PTI leader Faisal Vawda. PHOTO: FILE

From left to right: PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif and PTI leader Faisal Vawda. PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: AFP/FILE

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court barred on Tuesday the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) from issuing the notification of the final results of two National Assembly and one provincial assembly constituencies after the losing candidates challenged the provisional results and requested the court to order a recount.

All three winning candidates, Faisal Vawda in NA-249, Jamil Ahmed in NA-237 and Malik Shahzad Awan in PS-116, belong to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

The SHC sustained a petition filed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif over a recount in NA-249 and barred ECP from issuing a final notification of the results.

Vawda won from the constituency in the recently-concluded general elections. Sharif filed the recount petition hours before the ECP was scheduled to issue a notification on the July 25 elections.

During a hearing before a two-member bench, headed by Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, the applicant’s counsel argued that the number of rejected votes in the constituency was much higher than the winning margin. The former Punjab chief minister, through his counsel, termed an RO dismissal of recount appeal ‘illegal’ and claimed the party had received several complaints over the polls.

Sharif claimed his polling agent had been removed from the room during the vote count while the presiding officer issued results on a plain paper and not on Form 45 as per law.

In his petition, the PML-N leader said law enforcement agencies removed his banners and posters ahead of the elections while turning a blind eye to violations committed by Vawda during his election campaign. Sharif had requested the SHC to stay the ECP from issuing a notification on Vawda’s victory, secure records and order a recount.

The same bench heard the case of recounting in NA-237. Pakistan Peoples Party candidate Abdul Hakeem Baloch had filed a request against the victory of the PTI candidate.

The claimant’s layer also argued that a recount be done, alleging that rigging was carried out.

Further, the lawyer, Salaheen, of PML-N’s losing candidate from PS-116 argued that PTI’s Awan is an absconder in a Rs100 million cheque bounce case since August 21, 2014.

An absconder cannot be a member of the assembly and hence Awan should be disqualified, the lawyer said, arguing that Awan took part in the 2013 elections under a different name.

After hearing arguments, the court admitted the pleas by the losing candidates and issued a notice to the ECP to stop the notification of all the three PTI candidates. The commission has been directed to submit a reply in the case by August 10.

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Meanwhile, the SHC issued notices to the ECP, deputy advocate-general, RO and winning candidate Ataullah from NA-250 and others on a plea to stop the notification of the winning candidate from NA-250.

A two-member bench presided over the hearing of Muttahida Quami Movement-Pakistan candidate Fayyaz Kaimkhani’s application against the notification of NA-250’s winning candidate.

Kaimkhani’s lawyer argued that his client got 29,385 votes from NA-250 while his rival candidate bagged 36,060 votes. However, the lawyer said that his client’s polling agents were kicked out of the polling stations during the counting process and the ECP failed to conduct transparent elections.

He further stated that out of 275 polling stations, they received Form 45’s from only nine polling stations and so, the RO must be instructed to recount the votes. He requested that the ECP be ordered not to release the notification of the winning candidate.

After the hearing, the court instructed the concerned parties to submit a reply by August 9.

Speculations outside court

Speaking to the media after the court proceedings, PML-N leader Rana Mashood said a question mark has been put over the 2018 general elections.

After recounting in 10 constituencies, a different result has come out. He said that PML-N’s polling agents were removed from NA-249 and they had filed a petition against this action.

He announced a protest demonstration outside the election commission’s office today (Wednesday).

Meanwhile, PPP’s Baloch said that this is a unique election in the country where the winner does not know the reason behind his success.

He alleged that the results were changed under the excuse of a failure of the Results Transmission System. He claimed that 2,400 votes of his were rejected and his request to recount was also rejected.

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