Ruling urges PTI to avail forum of ECP before it files writ petition in court
The Islamabad High Court on Wednesday dismissed a petition filed by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf lawmaker challenging former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s election to the Senate. It also rejected a second plea seeking the disqualification of Ali Haider Gilani from the Punjab Assembly.
Announcing the verdict, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah said that the ruling party had already approached the Election Commission of Pakistan against Gilani’s election. “The election process is currently ongoing and, under the Election Act, you have other forums [to address your grievances],” he said, adding that the court could not ignore such forums. “You are levelling allegations of selling votes. Some of your own are included in this,” he said, referring to media reports.
“The court has faith in Parliament and has always respected parliamentarians,” said the chief justice and reiterated that the court should only be approached once the ECP had announced its decision. “It is not appropriate to bring political issues to the court unnecessarily,” he admonished lawmaker Ali Awan.
A day earlier, the ECP had rejected a petition filed by the PTI seeking to halt formal notification of Gilani’s victory. The electoral authority had directed the ruling party to amend its petition and include the names of the lawmakers it alleged had been bribed to vote for Gilani.
The PTI’s petition had been filed on the basis of leaked clips—a video showing Haider Gilani advising government lawmakers on how to ‘waste’ their votes, as well as audio of Sindh minister Nasir Hussain Shah allegedly bargaining with four PTI lawmakers for their votes. The PTI has maintained that it is the ECP’s responsibility to probe and provide the identities of the lawmakers were allegedly bribed.
Last week, Gilani—as the joint candidate of the Pakistan Democratic Movement—defeated Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, the candidate of the government, for a general seat from Islamabad. The government claims this victory was achieved through rigging and bribes, while the opposition maintains it signals anger among the ruling party’s lawmakers.