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Lahore High Court Rejects PML-N Leader’s Petition for Vote Recount

LAHORE: On Thursday, the Lahore High Court (LHC) delivered its verdict, dismissing a petition from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Azhar Qayyum, who sought a vote recount. Justice Shahid Karim presided over the case, which was brought forward by Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) leader Rana Bilal Ijaz. The court ruled that a vote recount cannot be sanctioned once Form 47, Form 48, and Form 49 have been issued.

Furthermore, the LHC declared that the notification issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) lacks legal validity, asserting that such notifications should have been issued during the election process itself. In a clear statement, the court labeled the vote recount notification issued on March 18 as illegal.

The verdict upheld the victory status of SIC leader Ijaz in NA-81, while simultaneously deeming the vote recount as unauthorized. This decision follows the LHC’s previous suspension of the victory notification for Azhar Qayyum of PML-N in the same constituency.

Meanwhile, the recent intra-party elections of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) are once again under scrutiny by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), as per sources on Wednesday.

Alleged irregularities in the intra-party polls held on March 3 have prompted the electoral authority to issue a notice to the former ruling party, sources reveal.

Scheduled for April 30, PTI representatives are summoned by the Political Financing Wing of the ECP to address the concerns raised. This marks the third occasion where the electoral body has questioned the internal elections of the beleaguered party.

PTI submitted documents related to its intra-party polls to the ECP on March 4. These documents, presented by PTI’s Federal Election Commissioner Raoof Hasan, encompass details of newly-elected party office-bearers, the party chief’s certificate including Form 65, core committee member names, and other pertinent records.

To qualify for the allocation of its electoral symbol “bat” by the electoral body, PTI, which elected Barrister Gohar Ali Khan and Omar Ayub as its chairman and secretary general on March 3, requires the relevant certificate.

Following its expulsion from the election race due to the Supreme Court’s verdict upholding the ECP’s decision, where the electoral body revoked its “bat” symbol citing unlawful intra-party polls, PTI conducted fresh polls last week.

However, PTI’s founding member Akbar S Babar has once again challenged the recent intra-party polls by filing two separate pleas with the electoral body seeking annulment of the elections.

According to the Election Act (2017), all registered political parties in Pakistan must conduct intra-party elections as outlined in their constitution within a specific timeframe.

PTI, which last held its intra-party elections in June 2016 with the next one scheduled on or before June 13, 2021, failed to comply on time, citing the COVID-19 pandemic. The ECP cautioned the party to respond to the notices or risk losing its iconic electoral symbol.

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