LAHORE: An election tribunal on Wednesday dismissed petition of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) candidate Hamid Zaman against the victory of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML -N) candidate, Riaz Malik, at the NA-118 (Lahore-1) constituency during the May 2013 general elections.
In the polls, the PML-N’s Riaz Malik had secured 103,310 votes against PTI’s Hamid Zaman’s 43,570 votes. Zaman had later filed an election petition alleging that the PML-N candidate had resorted to rigging.
After dozens of hearings, the election tribunal’s judge Rasheed Qamar issued a short order, dismissing Zaman’s petition while directing the PTI’s candidate to pay the expenses incurred by Riaz Malik to contest the petition.
The tribunal, however, also directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold an inquiry into casting of double votes by 291 voters at different polling stations of the constituency. The judge further directed the ECP to proceed as per law against the polling staff, which facilitated the duplicate voting.
Previously, the National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) had submitted its report before the tribunal, stating that thumb impressions on 65,793 votes cast at the NA-118 could not be verified while thumb impressions of voters were missing on 745 counterfoils.
Another NADRA report said the electoral rolls of 60 polling stations at the NA-118 were missing. It further stated that it had found a number of irregularities in the record and that the record of five polling stations was also missing.
A large number of supporters of both the parties had gathered outside the office of provincial election commissioner and a heavy contingent of police was also deployed to maintain order.
Later talking to the media, the PML-N MNA Riaz Malik said, “I have emerged victorious twice by the grace of Almighty”. He said the tribunal had upheld his victory which he made with a huge margin of 60,000 votes.
Disappointed by the decision, Hamid Zaman said he had reservations over the tribunal order. “We will take a decision regarding challenging the tribunal’s verdict in the apex court after going through the detailed judgment,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 26th, 2015.