This day last year, residents of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) utilised their democratic right to cast the ballot to elect representatives for the national and provincial assemblies.
But 12 months on, the fate of as many K-P parliamentarians is still tied up in various election tribunals as their petitions are yet to be decided.
Soon after the general elections on May 11, 2013, losing candidates approached K-P’s three election tribunals and filed petitions citing various reasons and allegations against the winning candidates, demanding their disqualification.
In a year’s time, these tribunals received 29 petitions against National Assembly winners, from which three were accepted, 18 dismissed and eight are still pending. For the provincial assembly seats, 44 complaints were received of which eight were accepted, 32 dismissed and four are pending.
The election tribunal of Peshawar, presided over by judge Shahjee Rehman Khan, received 31 petitions, 16 of provincial assembly seats and 15 of national. Of these, one was allowed, 26 dismissed and four are still pending.
The pending petitions for National Assembly (NA) seats include that of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Nasir Khan, objecting against former Awami National Party (ANP) chief minister Amir Haider Hoti on NA-9, Mardan-1. Moreover, the tribunal is yet to decide PTI candidate Muhammad Bashir’s petition challenging Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) candidate Sahibzada Muhammad Yaqoob’s victory on NA-34, Lower Dir and ANP leader Dawood Khattak’s petition against Imran Khattak of PTI on NA-5, Nowshera, who won the by-election on this seat on August 22, 2013 after Chief Minister Pervez Khattak opted for his provincial assembly seat.
From the provincial assembly, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl’s (JUI-F) Asif Iqbal Dawoodzai has challenged the victory of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) Arbab Akbar Hayat on PK-8, Peshawar where proceedings have been stayed because the petitioner approached the Peshawar High Court.
The DI Khan tribunal, under judge Yahya Zahid Gillani, received 18 petitions in which three were allowed, 13 dismissed and the fate of two is uncertain.
Two petitions are pending before the election tribunal of DI Khan where Fatahullah Miankhel challenged the by-poll victory of PTI’s Ikramullah Gandapur on PK-67. Similarly, Muhammad Ali has filed a petition against PML-N’s Ghalib Khan on NA-41, South Waziristan.
The Abbottabad tribunal, headed by Judge Ziauddin Khattak, received a total of 24 petitions in which seven were allowed, 11 dismissed and six are yet to be decided.
Of the six petitions lying before the election tribunal, ANP’s Namroz Khan challenged the victory of JUI-F’s Zarin Gul on PK-58, Torghar as the NADRA report verifying fingerprints is yet to be received.
PTI’s Raja Amir Zaman has filed a petition against PML-N’s Umer Ayub on NA-19, Mansehra where re-elections were held on January 30 while PTI’s Muhammad Azam Khan Swati has challenged the election results on NA-20 where Sardar Muhammad Yousaf of PML-N won. A NADRA report verifying thumb impressions has not been received for this constituency.
JUI-F’s Pir Muhammad Aqal Shah’s petition against Muhammad Nazir Khan, an independent candidate, on NA-40, North Waziristan is also undecided due to the delay in NADRA’s report.
The victory of JI’s Behram Khan on PK-93, Upper Dir has been challenged by Pakistan Peoples Party- Parliamentarian’s Sahibzada Sanaullah while the same party’s Jawad Hussain has submitted a petition against Ghazi Gulab Jamal on NA-39, Orakzai Agency. This last case is the oldest one in the tribunal which is yet to be decided as it was filed on June 24, 2013, accusing the victor of rigging on a mass scale.
Article 67 (1A) of the Representation of People’s Act, 1976 states that “the election tribunal shall proceed with the trial of the election petition on a day to day basis and the decision thereof shall be taken within four months from its receipt”.
It is on the basis of this law that aggrieved parties on the above-mentioned seats are crying foul over the working of the election tribunals and claim a delay on the tribunal’s part is against the law.
An official of the election tribunal told The Express Tribune on the condition of anonymity that the delays are not their fault but of the candidates as they have approached either high courts or the Supreme Court regarding some of the tribunals’ decisions.
He said in most petitions, winning candidates have been accused of rigging, adding some of the cases have been delayed as reports sent to NADRA for verification have not been received.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 11th, 2014.