Pakistan

PML-N to challenge unseating of Khawaja Saad Rafique

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) said on Wednesday that it would challenge an election tribunal that unseated the railways minister Khawaja Saad Rafique over alleged irregularities in the 2013 general election.

Khawaja Saad Rafique won the NA-125 seat in Lahore with a majority of nearly 40,000 as the PML-N swept to a landslide victory in May 2013 general elections.

But the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) party, led Imran Khan, has claimed widespread fraud tainted the poll which made Nawaz Sharif prime minister for a third time.

Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal adressing a joint press conference with Pervaiz Rasheed and Daniyal Aziz in Islamabad today said that PML-N has decided to challenge the verdict in the Supreme Court.

Ahsan Iqbal said the decision was made in the meeting with PM Nawaz after consulting with the legal team.

“Legal team was of the view that the points on which the tribunal has based its verdict must be contested on legal and constitutional basis”, he informed.

He said there were sufficient grounds to challenge the verdict as the tribunal clearly said there was no irregularity on the part of Khawaja Saad Rafiq. There was also no evidence of any nexus between the candidate and the polling staff for systematic rigging.

Rafique’s PTI rival Hamid Khan, who came second in NA-125, had filed a petition against the election result. The tribunal on Monday ruled in favour of Khan and ordered a fresh poll in his constituency

The PTI has waged a national campaign calling for the investigation into allegations of rigging and staged a 126-day sit-in protest in front of parliament last year.

The party says results were changed in at least four constituencies — including Rafique’s — through fraud.

Pakistan last month formed a nationwide judicial commission under the Supreme Court chief justice to investigate rigging in elections throughout the country.

The commission has asked political parties to provide evidence and is due to start examining witnesses later this week.

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