This Article is From May 04, 2015

Pakistan Railway Minister Disqualified Over Rigging in 2013 Polls

Pakistan Railway Minister Disqualified Over Rigging in 2013 Polls

Pakistan Railway Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique

Islamabad: In a setback for Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, an election tribunal in Pakistan today disqualified his confidant and Railway Minister for vote rigging in 2013 general elections and ordered re-poll in a constituency in Lahore from where he was elected.

The election tribunal announced the decision after hearing a case against Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique who was elected from NA-125 constituency in Lahore. His election was challenged by a rival from opposition leader Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

The court annulled the victory of Rafique over rigging in the elections and asked the Election Commission to organise fresh polls in the constituency within 60 days.

The disqualification of the minister, who had won the NA-125 seat with a majority of nearly 40,000, will give a huge boost to Khan who held violent protests last year against alleged rigging in the polls that were comprehensively won by Sharif's PML-N.

Rafique's constituency was among the four controversial constituencies where Tehreek-e-Insaf had been demanding the government to verify the elections.

The government has recently set up a judicial commission headed by chief justice of Pakistan to probe if the elections were rigged.

The three-member judicial commission is continuing its work and would complete it by the end of this month.

Reacting to his disqualification, defiant Rafique said he was being punished for the "incompetence" of election officials who were responsible for organising polls in a fair and free manner.

The election tribunal also annulled the victory of another PML-N candidate Mian Naseer Ahmad from Punjab province's PP-155 constituency and ordered re-election.

Ruling PML-N has not responded to the decision, but has the option to challenge the verdict in the Supreme Court or accept it and let election commission organise new polls.