News Analysis |
The leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Usman Dar on Saturday challenged the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Khawaja Asif’s election victory from NA-73 Sialkot. According to details, the PML-N stalwart’s win was challenged at the Lahore appellate tribunal on the last day of submitting appeals against those who emerged victorious in the recently-concluded general elections.
There were 10 Candidates participating in general election 2018 from NA 73 Sialkot-II constituency of Punjab Province. However, the key participants from NA 73 were PTI’s Muhammad Usman Dar and PMLN’s Khawaja Asif. Khawaja Asif won the election narrowly by receiving 116957 votes by defeating Muhammad Usman Dar PTI who got 115464 votes with a margin of only 1493 votes.
Mr. Dar has once again challenged the victory of PML-N leader yet there are very low chances of any fruitful outcomes for him. The LHC and SC have already given their respective verdicts and RO had also declined a request made by PTI leader for a complete recount.
According to Mr. Dar’s counsel Kazim Malik, Asif had submitted an unattested affidavit along with his nomination papers. Dar claimed Asif had concealed assets in the documents. Moreover, the petitioner has also stated that the ECP staff failed to execute the Election Act 2017 and ballot boxes from 53 polling stations submitted the next day. The petitioner requested Asif’s win to be annulled.
Interestingly, the Lahore High Court (LHC) on August 8th rejected Usman Dar’s plea demanding vote recount in NA-73. While announcing the decision, the court upheld Khawaja Asif’s victory in the constituency. Earlier, LHC had restrained the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) from issuing the victory notification of the former foreign minister Khawaja Asif in NA-73 Sialkot constituency.
Khawaja Asif won the election narrowly by receiving 116957 votes by defeating Muhammad Usman Dar PTI who got 115464 votes with a margin of only 1493 votes.
Mr. Dar, in his petition submitted through Advocate Anees Hashmi and Advocate Tajamul Gondal, had challenged the victory of Asif pleading that the returning officer did not provide Form-45 to the polling agents. The PTI leader maintained that as many as 7,346 votes were dismissed in his constituency which was far larger than the winning margin.
Usman Dar had approached the Returning Officer (RO) seeking a recount of votes. The RO, however, turned down his request for recounting the complete votes cast in the constituency and allowed a recount of only 7,300 rejected votes and 174 postal ballots of 15 polling stations. The vote recount was completed in NA-73 with Asif receiving 45 more votes than before. The vote count of PTI’s Muhammad Dar, who had requested the re-tally in the constituency, increased by 132 but he still remained behind the PML-N leader. Despite recounting Usman Dar rejected the fresh result and demanded recounting of the complete votes cast in the constituency.
Read more: Why PML-N retained all its seats in Sialkot?
Later on, the Supreme Court of Pakistan also rejected the plea of Mr. Dar and ordered the ECP to notify the results of NA-73. Sialkot was one of the few areas alongside Narowal where the PTI largely failed to secure seats despite largely winning the 2018 elections. Some attributed the PMLN’s hold due to the industrial prosperity the area witnessed under the Sharif’s rule while some found internal divisions within the PTI as a major cause.
Although Mr. Dar has once again challenged the victory of PML-N leader yet there are very low chances of any fruitful outcomes for him. The LHC and SC have already given their respective verdicts and RO had also declined a request made by PTI leader for a complete recount. Mr. Dar remained unable to produce any reliable evidence to support his allegations of electoral discrepancy which, according to him, took place at the day of elections. It is now expected that Lahore appellate tribunal may not entertain the request and reject the PTI’s please to declare the election of NA-73 null and void.