By Zulfiqar Ahmad
ISLAMABAD, Oct 2: As unofficial results of the recounting of rejected votes and postal ballot papers in PK-90 upper Chitral could not give a clear edge to any of the two candidates, it is difficult to say anything about the prospects of the tribunal’s verdict and its aftermath at this moment. However, ChitralToday talked to Kanwar Muhammad Dilshad, a former secretary of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), to seek his expert opinion on the matter.
When informed about the unofficial results obtained by ChitralToday, the former secretary ECP told this correspondent that since APML’s Ghulam Muhammad is the incumbent member of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial assembly, he has the right and can obtain a stay order from the high court in case the tribunal decides to declare his rival as the winner based on the single vote.
“The issue has become quite complicated [and] now it is not that easy as people think. Nobody, including the incumbent MPA, will accept disqualification so easily because there are lots of options, e.g. you can approach the Supreme Court seeking justice and this is for sure that the issue has hit snags,” he maintained.
When asked to comment about the prospects of PPP candidates’ victory, he said that any decision by the tribunal would not benefit the rival candidate – Sardar Hussain – as the case would be prolonged if his opponent [Ghulam Muhammad] drags the issue to the court.
To a question about rejecting the votes of APML candidate on the pretext that his name was not registered as Haji Ghulam Muhammad with the election commission, he said it should not have been made the condition as there was no other candidate with the same name.
If there was another candidate with the same name, as the case was with Sardar Hussain, it would have been justified to reject his votes but if there was one Ghulam Muhammad he should not be targeted on the pretexts of Haji or Alhaj.
About the chances of re-elections as massive irregularities were found in the recounting of the rejected votes and postal ballots, he Mr Dilshad said that the Election Commission had no power to order re-election as it is the tribunal which has the mandate to decide the fate of both the candidates.
He added that there are strong indications that the issue would be prolonged by the sitting MPA as he would be left with no option but to approach the court against the decision of the tribunal and to secure his seat.
It’s yet to be known what the tribunal is going to decide but to me it seems the person who is the incumbent MPA will challenge the decision in the court if the decision goes against him. The matter will be prolonged and the court will grant him a stay order. He can retain his seat and God knows how much time it will take,” Kunwar Muhammad Dilshad.
However, independent analysts say that Sardar Hussain of PPP who portrays himself a feisty underdog is still in trouble despite one vote lead against his archrival in the recounting of postal ballots. They said that in the first instance, Ghulam Muhammad would not accept the lead in case of any decision against him, adding the issue would certainly be taken to the court and he would carry on as the member provincial assembly, creating further troubles for his rival Sardar Hussain.