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Three PTI-backed NA candidates challenge provisional poll results

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KARACHI: Three independent candidates, who are members of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, have moved the Sindh High Court impugning the provisional results of the National Assembly seats from where they contested the Feb 8 general elections.

Interned PTI’s provincial president Haleem Adil Sheikh contested the poll from NA-238 (Karachi-East), Arsalan Khalid from NA-248 (Karachi-Central) and Advocate Khalid Mehmood was in the field as independent candidates from NA-231 (Malir).

They filed separate petitions before the SHC and cited the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), provincial election commissioner, returning officers (ROs) concerned, inspector general of police and other as respondents.

The petitioners, through their lawyer Ali Tahir, submitted in their petitions that they belonged to the PTI, but they had been categorised as independent candidates by the ROs after their party lost its electoral symbol.

They submitted that the ECP, ROs and others had flouted electoral laws and “rigged the entire process of elections”.

They submitted that as per Form-45, obtained by their polling agents from presiding officers at all the polling stations of the constituencies in questions, they were leading with big margins.

However, they alleged, the results were changed at the RO offices as the petitioners were shown as runner-up in Form-47 (provisional results).

They further submitted that their polling agents were also thrown out of the RO offices before the start of consolidation of the poll results without assigning any reason.

They asked the SHC to declare the impugned provisional results void and sought directive for respondents to prepare Form-47 afresh in the presence of their polling agents as provided in the election rules.

They also submitted that under the electoral laws, a RO was bound to announce provisional consolidated statement of results of the count of a constituency on receipt of results of the count from all presiding officers only in the presence of contesting candidates or their election agents or authorised observers.

They also stated that under Section 95 of the Election Act 2017, a RO must give contesting candidates and their election agents a notice mentioning the day, time and place for consolidation of the results in their presence, but no such notice had been issued to the petitioners or their election agents.

Mr Sheikh, who is confined at Karachi central prison due to his cases, filed the petition through his son, asking the court to declare that the process of consolidation of results was carried out without any lawful authority.

In his petition, he stated that the respondents had made egregious violations of electoral laws as well as several constitutional provisions during the elections.

He stated that as per Form-45 he had a clear lead of around 65,000 votes and set to with win with a big margin. However, his polling agent was kicked out of the RO’s office before the process of consolidation of result was started with an object to steal the election.

As per impugned Form-47, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s Sadiq Iftikhar was shown winner from NA-238 as he got over 54,000 votes while the petitioner was placed on second position with over 36,800.

Arsalan Khalid in his petition stated that in the light of Form-45, he had an obvious lead of around 40,000 votes, but the impugned Form-47 showed MQM-P convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui as winner with over 103,000 votes and the petitioner was runner-up with over 86,000 votes.

Petitioner Khalid Mehmood stated that according to his Form-45, he had the clear lead of over 5,000 votes, but the impugned Form-47 reflected that PPP’s Abdul Hakeem Baloch won the seat with a narrow margin of 389 votes as his votes were shown as 43,634 against the petitioner’s 43,245 votes.

All the petitioners categorically stated that they did not impugn the counting of votes at this stage as the same may be challenged later.

However, they maintained that the so-called consolidation of results carried out in the absence of the petitioner or their election agents be declared to be of no lawful authority and pleaded for preparation of Form-47 afresh in accordance with law.

The petitions are likely to be taken up for hearing on Monday.

Meanwhile, Advocate Jibran Nasir, like many other lawyers, is providing legal help to many PTI-backed independent candidates and it is expected that he would file several petitions against the provisional results soon.

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