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LHC annuls ECP’s action against officers involved in Daska by-polls rigging

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  • LHC announces reserved verdict on pleas challenging ECP’s action.
  • Rules out ECP’s authority to take action against officials over misconduct.
  • Says departments concerned are authorised to take action.

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday declared the action of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) against the officials involved in rigging in Daska by-polls invalid.

The by-election in the Sialkot constituency had gained national importance after ECP declared the February 19, 2021 polls void due to multiple incidents of violence and serious irregularities.

Later, the electoral body initiated proceedings against officials involved in the Daska by-poll fiasco. The action was launched after an inquiry report revealed that the NA-75 Sialkot-IV by-election held in Daska was not held in a fair, free, and transparent manner.

However, the said officials including former Sialkot deputy commissioner challenged ECP’s action in the high court, which reserved the verdict on the pleas on November 25. 

Challenging the action, the petitioners had maintained in their pleas that they were no longer the officials of the ECP after the election therefore the action against them was illegal.

Today, the court while announcing the reserved verdict, ruled that only the departments concerned have the authority to take action against the officials over misconduct, “election commission doesn’t”.

Inquiry report

The ECP had launched the action against the alleged rigging after the findings of an inquiry report.

The NA-75 Sialkot-IV by-election held in Daska on February 19, 2021 was not held in a fair, free, and transparent manner, an inquiry report issued by the ECP had determined.

According to the report, a copy of which was seen by Geo.tv, the election officials and other government functionaries “did not play their designated role in a requisite manner [and] they were found puppets in the hands of their unlawful masters”.

The fact-finding team gathered details from official records obtained from Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, Islamabad; Intelligence Bureau, Islamabad; District Police, Sialkot; Elite Police Force; written statements and supplementary question and answer sessions of the presiding officers (POs), senior assistant presiding officers, naib qasids, drivers, and police personnel, etc, the report said.

Role of education department

Of the staff employed for election duty from the education department, Muhammad Iqbal Kaloya, Deputy Director (Colleges), Sialkot, was found involved in attending meetings at AC House, Daska, “which were meant for manipulating the election process”, in which Ali Abbas, Zeeshan Javed, Asif Hussain, Firdous Ashiq Awan, Muhammad Awais, and some other persons were present.

According to the report, he “illegally summoned the POs in the office of Nawaz Cheema, Principal, Government Degree College for Boys, Daska, to pass on the following directions”.

  • Slow down the voting process;
  • Voting should not increase above 25% in Daska city area;
  • Don’t interfere in the doings of the district administration and police and whatever they want to do, let them do it;
  • Close the polling station at 4:30pm with the help of police;
  • Cooperate with the district administration; and
  • Return to the RO office as early as possible.

Furthermore, Akbar Ghumman, Deputy District Education Officer (Secondary), Sialkot, was found “misguiding” the POs, while Qamar Zaman Chaudhry, Deputy District Education Officer, Daska, was found in an audio recording of using “filthy language which shows his concerns about the inquiry proceedings”, the report said.

Daska by-poll ficaso

The ECP had declared the by-poll void due to multiple incidents of violence and serious irregularities and ordered re-election.

Later, PML-N’s Nosheen Iftikhar won the by-election in Daska in the Sialkot constituency.

“I won the election on February 19. Special congratulations to Election Commission who took my victory away,” PTI leader Ali Asjad Malhi — who won the February 19, 2021 election.

The PTI candidate had challenged the ECP order in the Supreme Court, but the petition was dismissed on April 2 and the apex court ordered that the poll be held on April 10 as per schedule.

According to provisional and unofficial results from all 360 polling stations, announced after midnight, at around 12:30am on Sunday, Iftikhar managed to secure 110,075 votes, whereas Malhi received 93,433.

The final tally means the PML-N won by a margin of 16,642 votes.

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Explanation: The increase in inflation in the United States would cause electricity costs in Pakistan to rise.

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Electricity contracts between Independent Power Plants (IPPs) and the federal government not only involve capacity costs, but also have a significant impact on the economy and the financial well-being of the population. These contracts are closely linked to the inflation rate and the value of the US dollar.

Startling disclosures have emerged regarding the exorbitant electricity tariffs in Pakistan. The Council of Economic and Energy Journalists Sage, representing the institute, provided a briefing to leading journalists in Karachi.

According to the information provided, the electricity rate component in Pakistan experienced a 253 percent increase from 2019 to 2024 as a result of inflation in America.

The data presented in the briefing indicates that the capacity charges in Pakistan were Rs3.26 per unit in 2019 and climbed to Rs10.34 per unit in 2024.

The capacity charges imposed on the public incorporate the effects of both US inflation and domestic inflation.

Due to the rise in the country’s interest rate, the interest payment for energy has climbed by 343% during a span of four years. Over the course of four years, the working capital of IPPs caused a 716 percent increase in the cost of power per unit.

The electricity rate has increased by 12 to 20 percent, with 70 percent of the charges being capacity charges.

SDPI experts recommended the government to adopt a centralised tariff policy rather than a universal electricity tariff strategy.

The power generation capacity amounts to 23,000 megawatts.

As a result of the increase in solar power generation in the country, the capacity charges will have an additional adverse impact on the residents.

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Business

Significant surge in the price of gold in Pakistan

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On Friday, the price of gold in Pakistan continued to increase.

According to the All-Pakistan Gems and Jewellers Sarafa Association, the price of 24-karat gold per tola has risen by Rs2,200, reaching Rs249,000.

The price of 10-gram 24-karat gold increased by Rs1,886, reaching a total of Rs213,477. On Thursday, the cost of 10 grammes of 22-karat gold was Rs195,687.

The global gold market likewise had a rising trajectory. As per APGJSA, the worldwide rate was $2,404 per ounce, showing a decline of $24 during the course of the trading day.

The local market witnessed constant silver prices at Rs2,900 per tola.

Market observers attribute the increase in gold prices to other variables, such as volatility in the global market, currency exchange rates, and economic conditions. The ongoing surge in gold prices is likely to impact investment choices and consumer behaviour in the near future.

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Court ruling: PTI to overtake all other parties in the National Assembly

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Eight independents and 84 Sunni Alliance members mean that the PTI will likely have 92 legislators in the National Assembly, according to sources.

PTI’s strength in the Lower House is expected to surge to 114 members if it regains the 22 reserved seats it previously lost.

As for the PML-N, they have 108 members in the National Assembly; PPP has 68; MQM has 21; JUI-F has 8; PML-Q has 5; and IPP has 4.

Following the Supreme Court’s ruling on the distribution of reserved seats, the 77 extra seats meant for women and minorities were taken away from the PML-N, PPP, MQM, and JUI.

The electoral commission had on May 13 suspended the 77 Sunni Ittehad Council reserved seats on directives from the Supreme Court. 22 National Assembly seats and 55 provincial assembly seats are among the contested seats.

There are eleven seats from Punjab and eight from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the National Assembly that are up for debate among women. The suspended seats also include three seats that are designated for minorities. In the National Assembly, the PPP received five seats, the JUI received three, and the PML-N received fourteen of the 22 heavily contested seats.

There are no longer any allocated seats for minorities or women in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, with 21 seats for women. In addition to the JUI-F, the PML-N was allotted seven seats, the PPP seven, and the ANP one.

The Supreme Court’s decision has suspended the three minority seats and the 24 reserved seats for women in the Punjab Assembly. The PML-N received 23, the PPP received 2, the PML-Q received 1, and the Istehkam-e-Pakistan Party received 1 in Punjab.

There are now no longer any designated seats in the Sindh Assembly for women and minorities. MQM was allotted one reserved seat out of these, and the PPP two.

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