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ISLAMABAD: The electoral body has withheld the notification of Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and former prime minister Imran Khan’s victory on six National Assembly seats he won in October 16 by-elections, following his disqualification in Toshakhana reference, and has de-seated Khan as Member National Assembly (MNA) from his hometown of Mianwali even though the PTI chief has already tendered resignation from this seat.

In addition, barring Khan, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has notified all the five other returned candidates of October 16 by-polls that were held on eight NA and three Punjab Assembly seats.

The PTI chief clinched victory on NA-22 Mardan, NA-24 Charsadda, NA-31 Peshawar, NA-108 Faisalabad, NA-118 Nankana Sahib and NA-239 Korangi seats, whereas, he lost NA-237 Malir in the by-elections.

The ECP has withheld the notification of Khan’s victory on all the six NA seats in pursuance of its own decision issued last Friday to disqualify Khan from NA in the Toshakhana reference—a decision that attracted widespread criticism from the public and political circles.

On Friday, the ECP de-notified Khan’s NA-95 Mianwali membership but made this notification public only on Monday.

According to a separate notification issued Monday, Chaudhry Iftikhar Bhangoo from Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) is returned candidate for PP-139, PTI’s Faisal Niazi for PP-209 Khanewal, PTI’s Malik Muzaffar for PP-241 Bahawalnagar, Ali Musa Gilani from Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) for NA-157 Multan and PPP’s Abdul Hakeem Baloch for NA-237 Malir.

The PTI secured a landslide victory bagging eight of the 11 seats in by-elections compared to the PPP’s two seats and the PML-N’s one seat.

On Friday, the ECP, in a unanimous verdict, disqualified Khan from NA membership under Article 63(1)(p) of the Constitution and not under Article 62(1)(f) – whereas, disqualification under the latter is for a lifetime in the light of different verdicts of the Supreme Court.

The PDM leaders sought Khan’s disqualification under Article 62(1)(f) for allegedly concealing the details of Toshakhana gifts when he was the prime minister.

However, serious questions were raised over this verdict keeping in view that the ECP, in the light of different SC verdicts, was declared not to be a court of law. Therefore, according to many, the ECP was not authorised to disqualify Khan but could only de-seat him for any alleged wrongdoing he committed as a legislator.

In addition, despite that, the ECP announced its verdict in Toshakhana case, the signed draft of the verdict was not issued on Friday. The ECP officials said that one ECP member Babar Bharwana, who is part of the five-member bench that heard this case, contracted dengue virus, was hospitalised and was unable to sign the Toshakhana order due to his poor health condition. The unusual delay in the issuance of a signed verdict raised different speculations questioning the rationale behind issuing a “hasty” verdict when one of the bench members was ill.

There were also rumours that some “powerful” quarters pressured the ECP members to sign the Toshakhana verdict against Khan and Bharwana refused to do so. The ECP dismissed these rumours. On Monday, the ECP finally issued the 36-page Toshakhana reference verdict after Bharwana signed it.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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