Sunday, January 26, 2020

Election tribunal orders opening of ballot bags in NA-122


LAHORE:(APS) An election tribunal on Monday accepted Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s request for opening the ballot bags in constituency NA-122 to investigate allegations of rigging.


Judge Kazim Ali Malik rejected National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq’s request to the tribunal against opening the bags. A single-member commission has also been ordered to check the records after opening the ballot bags in NA-122.


Imran Khan earlier this week sought the resignation of National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq till the completion of verification of votes in his NA-122 constituency by the election tribunal.


NA-122 is one of the four constituencies where the PTI had sought a recount and verification of voters’ thumb impressions. Mr Sadiq had defeated Mr Khan in the 2013 general elections and the PTI challenged the results.


In a statement, Imran Khan criticised the election tribunal for not opening up NA-122 for a vote recount and verification of thumbprints despite an overwhelming evidence of irregularities.


He said he wondered why the NA speaker was seeking shelter behind courts’ stay orders, one after another, instead of having the moral courage to go through vote and thumbprint verifications. Under these circumstances, he said, Ayaz Sadiq had lost his moral credibility and should resign as NA Speaker till the completion of the verification process.


Khan submitted an evidence report to judge Kazim Ali Malik pertaining to alleged rigging in the May 2013 elections two days earlier.


Speaking to media representatives outside the tribunal, Khan had stated that evidence had been recorded in front of the judge, adding that he will decide on Monday whether the ballot bags will be opened or not.


The evidence was submitted against National Assembly speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq who had defeated Imran Khan in the NA-122 constituency during the election.


Earlier, six witnesses presented by the petitioner side, were cross-examined by Mr Sadiq’s counsel. The witnesses were polling agents of the PTI who, in their written statements, alleged that they were forcefully expelled from the polling booths by the presiding officers. They alleged that the presiding officers spoiled the ballot-papers by stamping on tiger, election symbol of ruling PML-N. The witnesses said they protested the ‘unfairness’ but to no avail.


Mr Sadiq’s counsel Barrister Asjad Saeed pointed out that an FIR was already lodged against the ‘fake’ oath commissioner who attested the affidavits of Mr Khan’s witnesses. He said the affidavits should not be made part of the case record.

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