Islamabad: Pakistan courts have been flooded with petitions by losing candidates who challenged the provisional results in their constituencies within days after the highly polarised general elections in the country, it emerged on Sunday.
Though Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) emerged as the single largest party in the February 8 elections, the number of independent candidates, a vast majority of them backed by jailed former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party, were the single largest block of winners.
The PTI claimed that its supported candidates have won the maximum number of seats but the results were manipulated to deprive it of the majority, and in order to turn the tide, its losing candidates have thronged the courts.
According to a report in the Dawn newspaper, a vast majority of those filing challenges against results are PTI-backed independents, including high-profile politicians such as former Punjab chief minister Parvez Elahi and his wife Qaisera, former Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) finance minister Taimoor Jhagra and ex-KP speaker Mahmood Jan, Islamabad-based lawyer Shuaib Shaheen, former Punjab health minister Dr Yasmin Rashid, as well as Rehana Dar, mother of Usman Dar who was in-charge youth affairs in the PTI government.
In Lahore, the victories of PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz, PML-N Attaullah Tarar and former defence minister Khawaja Asif were assailed in separate petitions before the high court, which alleges manipulation of Form 47s, which showed consolidated results of every constituency.
The petitioners claim that they were successful against their opponents as per the Form 45, showing results of individual polling stations, handed to them. However, in their absence, their victories were allegedly turned into defeats in the Form 47. The have also alleged collusion in the alteration of election results and demand that the results of Form 47 be prepared according to the Form 45s.
In PP 146 Sialkot, Omar Dar’s wife, Ruba Omar, has challenged the election results. According to Form 45, Ruba Omar has won, but she was evidently defeated in Form 47 due to collusion.
Maryam’s victory from NA-119 has been challenged by independent candidate Shahzad Farooq, alleging that the presiding officers did not provide Form 45, and the returning officer issued the result in his absence. Farooq claims to have won against Maryam but was defeated due to rigging.
PML-N’s Atta Tarar’s victory from NA-127 has been challenged by Zahir Abbas Khokhar, who claimed that Tarar has lost according to Form 45 but declared himself victorious in Form 47 with evident collusion.
In Karachi, three PTI candidates moved the Sindh High Court, arguing that the election watchdog, Returning Officer (ROs), those who compiled Form 47, and others flouted electoral laws and rigged the entire process.
The challengers include PTI provincial chief Haleem Adil Sheikh, Arsalan Khalid and advocate Khalid Mehmood, who contested in NA-238 (East-IV), NA-248 (Central-II) and NA-231 (Malir-III), respectively.
The PTI Sindh president argued that as per the Form 45 obtained by his election agents from all polling stations, he had a clear lead of around 65,000 votes, but MQM-P’s Sadiq Iftikhar was shown as the winner from NA-238 with over 54,000 in the impugned Form 47, while the petitioner was placed on second position with over 36,800 votes.
In Islamabad, Mohammad Shuaib Shaheen — a member of Imran Khan’s legal team — and PTI’s Mohammad Ali Bukhari have assailed their defeats at the hands of PML-N’s Tariq Fazal Chaudhry and Independent candidate Raja Khurram Shehzad, respectively.
Both the candidates filed the petitions in the IHC, however, the registrar office raised the objection that the petitioner should approach the appropriate forum. Subsequently, the candidates filed the application with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
The Peshawar High Court will take up petitions filed by nine PTI-backed independents, including six former lawmakers, challenging the provisional election results in their respective constituencies.
The hearing will be conducted by a two-member bench consisting of Justice Shakeel Ahmad and Justice Syed Arshad Ali.
The petitioners include former provincial ministers Taimoor Jhagra (PK-79) and Kamran Khan Bangash (PK-82), former deputy speaker of the KP Assembly Mahmood Jan (PK-72), former MNAs Sajid Nawaz Khan (NA-28) and Hamidul Haq (PK-80), former lawmaker Arbab Jehandad Khan (PK-74), former Peshawar district nazim Mohammad Asim (PK-78) and lawyers Ali Zaman (PK-73) and Malik Shahab (PK-75), according to the Dawn report.
The legal challenges generally continue to drag on for weeks and months in the courts and don’t affect the government formation process. Some of such challenges are also used by candidates as face-saving tactics.