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PPP candidate Waheeda Shah slapped with two-year ban

08 March, 2012

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ISLAMABAD: In a split decision, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday disqualified PPP candidate Waheeda Shah for two years and declared Sindh's PS-53 by-election null and void, ordering immediate re-polling in the constituency.

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Justice (retd) Hamid Ali Mirza and Election Commission Member (ECM) Justice (retd) Roshan Ali Essani, both from Sindh, opposed the decision, as the electoral body decided the slapping case by a majority.

According to insiders, the CEC and ECM Sindh contended that the petition by another candidate from the same constituency, Mushtaq Ali Talpur, was not maintainable and hence there was no question of the disqualification of Shah or of declaring the PS-53 election null and void.

ECP spokesman Muhammad Afzal Khan told media persons the convicted candidate would not take part in elections till March 6, 2014 but reserved the right to file an appeal against this judgment.

ECMs from Punjab Justice (Retd) Riaz Kayani added a note to the judgment authored by Justice (retd) Fazlur Rehman of Balochistan while Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Shahzad Akbar Khan supported it.

These three members supported punishment for the PPP candidate, whereas the chief election commissioner and ECM Sindh strongly opposed it. A formal written judgment will be released on Thursday. Sources privy to the developments told that ECM Punjab and Balochistan wrote that the disqualification would serve as a deterrent in electoral exercises in the future.

Likewise, they contended that the objective of declaring the PS-53 election null and void was to provide equal opportunity to all stakeholders to contest the poll again. It was learnt that two members, namely Riaz Kayani and Fazlur Rehman, tried hard to convince Hamid Ali Mirza and Roshan Ali to change their stand, but they stood their ground, as they had when an independent candidate Mohsin Leghari was allowed to take part in the Senate election from Punjab. Leghari ultimately went on to win the seat, defeating PPP's Aslam Gill.

Riaz Kayani particularly asked for strict action against police officer DSP Irfan Shah for not intervening to prevent the unfortunate incident. The Sindh Inspector General of Police has been asked to immediately report to the ECP about what action was taken against Irfan Shah.

"The conviction of Waheeda Shah by the Returning Officer Asghar Ali Sial laid the foundation for her disqualification and for declaring the constituency's election null and void," sources pointed out.

End.

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