QUETTA: An election tribunal of the Balochistan High Court (BHC) on Friday declared the election of National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri as null and void over vote-rigging and ordered re-election in the NA-265 (Quetta II) constituency.
Suri, who was elected to the National Assembly in last year’s general elections and later won the deputy speaker’s seat, was disqualified by the tribunal, headed by Justice Abdullah Baloch, on the petition of rival candidate Nawabzada Lashkari Raisani of the Balochistan National Party (BNP).
Suri’s election victory was challenged by Raisani, accusing him of rigging the vote. “The election tribunal has ordered re-election in the constituency by nullifying the previous result,” Riaz Ahmed, the legal counsel of the Raisani, told reporters after the announcement of the ruling.
He said in his petition that a total of 114,000 votes were cast in his constituency out of which a huge number of votes were declared invalid. “The election was rigged brazenly and 65,000 votes were not verified,” his lawyer, Riaz Ahmed, had told the court.
During the court hearings, the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) had submitted a report on the orders of the tribunal, which suggested it could not verify more than 52,000 votes cast in 2018 poll.
Raisani, brother of former Balochistan chief minister Aslam Raisani, was not present at the court when the tribunal, headed by Justice Abdullah Baloch, announced the verdict. Suri, a flamboyant leader of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was also conspicuous for absence in the court.
According to the ruling, Suri remained eligible to contest by-election. He has seven days to appeal the judgment at the Supreme Court. There were no immediate comments from his office either.
Addressing a press conference at Sarawan House on Friday, Raisani termed the verdict a victory of the people of Balochistan. “The people have emerged victorious today. We have unseated the people who were elected through invalid votes,” he said. “Truth has prevailed today due to transparent reports submitted by NADRA.’
“It was a conspiracy to keep true leadership of Balochistan out of parliament and allowed fake people to represent Balochistan,” Raisani said, adding that those who violated public trust should stay away from the re-polling.