The hopes of PTI candidate Ali Asjad Malhi in NA-75 Daska to overturn the decision of Election Commission of Pakistan to nullify the results of by-elections and to repoll in the entire constituency dashed on Friday April 02. The PTI candidate was seeking the repoll in just 23 polling stations where PML-N candidate alleged that election results were tampered in favour of PTI candidate.
The Supreme Court rejected the appeal of the PTI candidate against the re polling in NA 75 Daska. The Supreme Court upheld the ECP decision to repoll in NA-75 Daska in a short order. This is a big blow to PTI which argues that it wants to change the culture of rigging, tempering and interfering of police and local administration in the electoral process to influence the results.
The PTI candidate failed to convince the honourable judges of the SC to strike down the ECP decision. PTI lawyer advocate Mohammad Shahzad Shaukat said that PML-N had raised objections over 23 polling stations. He further argued that the returning officer in its report said that no concerns were recorded on the results of 340 polling stations by PML-N candidate Nosheen Iftikhar.
Shahzad Shaukat adopted the stance that the commission had exceeded from its authority by ordering re-poll in the entire constituency of NA-75 Daska. The SC bench heard the concerned parties at length before announcing its decision.
The SC judgement is a welcome development to make elections clean and transparent. The SC has stamped the authority of ECP to stop corrupt practices, rigging and tempering in the elections. The detailed SC judgement might provide further guidelines to held free, fair and transparent elections.
PTI argues that it wants to develop a transparent, fair and free electoral system in the country. But during the bypolls in NA-75 Daska constituency, the Punjab government did exactly the opposite. Punjab government failed to provide proper assistance to ECP to conduct free, fair and transparent elections in the constituency.
A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Umer Ata Bandial, heard the petition of PTI candidate Ali Asjad Malhi, challenging the ECP order of February 25, 2021, declaring the by-election at NA-75 Daska void and ordering re-polling in the whole constituency.
This SC decision has vindicated the narrative of PML-N. PML-N alleged that law and order situation was deliberately created to keep the turnout low in the urban areas of the Daska constituency.
ECP had submitted a report comprising map of the constituency and other important details in the court. It was mentioned in the report that on the day of by-polls, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) had called chief secretary numerous times but he didn’t respond.
Even IG Punjab Police did not respond when ECP sought his help to recover the 23 presiding officers who went missing after the vote count in their polling stations. Firing incidents took place at 38 polling stations while 54 polling stations experienced 35 percent low turnout, the report stated. Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that detailed decision of ECP and reply were of great importance. The commission had ordered re-polls in NA-75 due to violation of law, he added.
The ECP in its report and in detailed judgement has explained in length that how some local police officials and administration tried to influence the results. ECP had submitted a reply in SC, declaring Punjab government responsible for mismanagement during by-elections in NA-75 Daska. The commission had told the apex court that the polls were made controversial by deploying selected officers in the area.
The bypolls in NA-75 has damaged the PTI politically. PTI put at stake its political image just to win a national assembly seat. The PTI made it do or die elections and decided to do whatever may come to win this constituency. PTI local leadership failed to understand the damage this strategy could cause to it.
Whatever happened in the night of election in the 23 polling stations were unnecessary and uncalled for. Whoever plan this strategy has tarnished the image of PTI as a party of change and fair play.
In February 2021, the ECP has nullified the results of by election in February and ordered to conduct re-polling in the entire constituency. The commission had first decided to hold elections on March 18 however, later; it announced the date of repoll on April 10.
Announcing the reserved verdict, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja had declared that the by-poll in the constituency was not fair and transparent. Law and order situation was disrupted while an environment of fear was also created among the locals, he added.
It is to be mentioned here that the Returning Officer decided to withhold the by-poll results in NA-75 Daska due to violence and alleged vote fraud.
According to the unofficial results of 337 polling stations, PML-N candidate Nosheen Iftikhar (97,588 votes) was leading Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Ali Asjad Malhi (94,541 votes). However, results of 23 polling stations were delayed.
An interesting contest is expected in the repoll in this constituency. PML-Ns Syed Iftikhar Shah won the NA-75 constituency with the lead of nearly 40,000 votes. The PML-N maintained its vote bank but PTI increased its vote bank to give tough time to PML-N. The PML-N candidate was narrowly leading in the by elections. Her lead was just around 3,000 votes when the controversy of missing presiding officers emerged.
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