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'Such a prank cannot be played...': Pakistan SC raps absentee petitioner seeking nullification of elections

The petitioner, who claims to be retired Pakistan Army officer, sought the elections to be declared null and void and the elections to be reconducted within 30 days. This came as the country witnessed widespread protests for alleged rigging in the February 8 elections.

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Islamabad Published on: February 19, 2024 15:09 IST
Pakistan, Pakistan Supreme Court, elections nullification
Image Source : PTI (FILE) The Supreme Court of Pakistan

Islamabad: Pakistan's Supreme Court on Tuesday strongly rapped a retired Army officer while hearing his case seeking the February 8 elections to be declared null and void, as he failed to appear before the court, and summoned him while adjourning the case till February 21 (Wednesday). Brigadier (retd) Ali Khan had sought the nullification of the elections due to alleged violations of democratic norms and electoral integrity.

According to Dawn, a three-member bench led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa, issued a notice to the petitioner through the defence ministry and adjourned the hearing till Wednesday, noting that his phone number was found to be turned off. “Was the application filed only for publicity? This cannot be allowed. We will not allow the SC to be used in a wrong manner,” the court observed.

It also noted that the plea was filed on February 12 but was reported in the media beforehand. Recalling that the notice to the petitioner could not be delivered to the stated address and contact number, the court ordered that Ali be contacted through the station house officer concerned. 

'Such a prank cannot be played on Pakistan SC'

At the start of the hearing, the plaintiff's lawyer conveyed the client's desire to withdraw the plea. In response, Justice Isa remarked, "Such a prank cannot be played on the Supreme Court. Bring the petitioner from wherever and present him before the court."

Ali had asked the court to re-conduct the elections within 30 days under the supervision and oversight of the judiciary. The petitioner named the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the federal government as respondents in the case. The petition also seeks a stay order on the formation of the new government till the case is resolved. 

Following the Pakistan general elections, widespread protests have been held in Balochistan, Sindh and other parts of the country against alleged rigging in the 2024 general elections. Political parties, including the National Party, PPP, JUI, BAP, BNP-Mengal, PkMAP, and PkNAP, staged protest demonstrations engulfing major thoroughfares and district returning offices, demanding recounts and challenging the declared outcomes in Balochistan. Jailed former PM Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) said February 8 would be remembered as the "biggest voter fraud" in the country's history.

Shocking revelation on poll rigging in Pakistan

Though independent candidates backed by PTI won the maximum number of seats in Parliament, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) have announced that they will form a coalition government after the February 8 elections resulted in a hung Parliament.

The post-poll alliance by the PML-N and the PPP could mean that PTI will not be able to form the next federal government, prompting Khan's party to allege that the two rival parties were trying to steal the people's mandate with the help of the powerful establishment.

Meanwhile, a shocking revelation emerged in Pakistan when Rawalpindi Commissioner Liaquat Ali Chattha saying that the candidates who were “losing” the elections “were made to win” in the city. Before resigning from his post, he claimed that 13 candidates from Rawalpindi were forcefully declared winners.

Chattha resigned from his office after "accepting responsibility" for the manipulation of poll results. "I am taking the responsibility for all this wrongdoing and telling you that the chief election commissioner and the chief justice are also completely involved in this," he said, adding that “stabbing the country in its back does not let” him sleep.

Uncertainty prevails in Pakistan

Meanwhile, uncertainty remained over who would take the reins of the country as PM as PPP rejected a power-sharing formula with the PML-N. Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said he was ffered to let PML-N handle the prime ministerial post for three years, after which PPP would be allowed to take the premiership, which he rejected. 

The two parties decided to meet again on Monday to finalise the power-sharing formula. A brief announcement issued by the PML-N after the meeting said that there had been “significant progress” in talks with both sides, stressing the need for a “strong democratic government”. The PPP assured PML-N of its support in the government and the next PM on the condition that it would receive key constitutional offices, like that of the president.

(with inputs from agencies)

ALSO READ | Pakistan: PML-N and PPP fail to reach consensus on power-sharing, to hold talks again

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