The Election Tribunal’s decision to declare voting results in the NA 125 Lahore constituency null and void and order re-polling opens up a conundrum of sorts, for both the PTI and PML-N. PML-N’s candidate Khwaja Saad Rafique had won this seat bagging 123,000 votes while PTI’s Hamid Khan stood second bagging 84,000 votes. The constituency saw vociferous sit-ins by the PTI faithful at Lalik Chowk, Defence who claimed rigging took place and remained one of the oft-repeated constituencies where doubts were risen by the PTI.

Does the PML-N use the option of appealing to the Supreme Court or choose to contest by-elections in the constituency? If it chooses to appeal, doubts may arise over the matter leading to PTI winning a moral ground in the eyes of the people. If it chooses to contest elections, it earns itself the moral ground. But eventually, the bigger decision lies with the Judicial Commission set-up to investigate pre-planned and systematic rigging. The election tribunal’s decision will surely impact the result of the Judicial Commission’s verdict and might setup the trend for future constituencies being challenged. Khawaja Saad Rafique, meanwhile, needs to take the moral high ground and resign from his position as Railways Minister as soon as possible.

The PTI needs to assess whether to give the ticket to Hamid Khan or choose another candidate. Infighting in the party is at an all-time high, with the party’s decision to replace Hamid Khan’s chosen candidates in the Cantonment Board elections fresh in the minds of the populace. Party leaders need to be reminded that this is just one constituency, and although an initial surge has been secured, the matter will be a long drawn out battle. PTI should not expect the PML-N to give up so soon and expect all sorts of politicking and pressure tactics.

The PTI leadership is cleverly building up the pressure on another constituency, Lahore’s NA 122 where Speaker National Assembly Ayaz Sadiq won against Imran Khan. With the leadership convinced about the seat being theirs and if the election tribunals rule in favour of the PTI, the damage will be disastrous for the PML-N. Two stalwarts and public seat holders of the party being found out will spur the anti-government protesters further in achieving their ends. At the end of the day, however, the decision of the Judicial Commission is the one to look out for as it holds the key to the direction of electoral politics for the next few years in the Pakistani context.