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SC directs Sindh poll chief to address people's concerns

14 February, 2013

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has directed the Sindh election commissioner to address the grievances of people of Karachi about the door-to-door verification of their votes in the presence of armed forces personnel, and asked him to submit a report in this regard within two weeks.

The court has also asked the attorney general of Pakistan to appear before it today (Thursday) to evolve a mechanism to allow overseas Pakistanis cast their votes. A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, heard several petitions filed by different political parties about the verification of voters in Karachi

The court has directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to carry out verification of voters in view of its December 5, 2012, order. During the hearing on Wednesday, counsel for the ECP, Munir Paracha, submitted an affidavit on behalf of the Sindh election commissioner regarding the door-to-door verification of voters in the presence of armed forces personnel in Karachi. According to the affidavit, the verification process is being carried out in view of the December 5, 2012 order of the court.

On the other hand, Hamid Khan, counsel for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, also submitted an affidavit on behalf of a woman, Tehseen Fatima, contradicting the ECP's claims that the verification process is going on smoothly. Fatima has alleged in the petition that the MQM workers have highjacked the process for verification of voter lists in Karachi. She claimed that two workers of the party, whose names she has disclosed in the petition, came to her house on February 1 for the purpose.

Meanwhile, other political parties have also submitted similar complaints to the bench and alleged that the "ECP's staff had been highjacked by the MQM". The chief justice, however, told the representatives of the political parties that the ECP's affidavit regarding the matter had come before the court and if the provincial election commissioner submits a false affidavit regarding the implementation of the court's December 5, 2012, order then the court might take action against him.

Counsel for the ECP, Paracha, said that the verification of voters is continuing and if anyone had any grievance in this regard the commission would address them. It must be noted that most of the major political parties, namely the Pakistan People's Party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Jamaat-e-Islami, have expressed concerns regarding the transfer of 2.7 million voters from Karachi to other areas of the country, and they have requested the Supreme Court to carry out a proper and complete door-to-door verification process of electoral rolls in the city.

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