Sadiq Mushtaq


The vacation of a stay order granted by the Lahore High Court Multan bench against verification of thump impressions in NA-154 by the Supreme Court and subsequent directives for day-to-day hearing of the case to the election tribunal has sparked public debates about the (probable) fate of the constituency.

PTI circles are sure that massive rigging was carried out during May 11, 2013 general elections in the constituency that would be unveiled as soon as the thumb impressions are verified by the Nadra while the N-League's circles believe otherwise.

The constituency NA-154, comprising of main Lodhran city and its suburbs, is one of the four constituencies of the country where PTI is demanding probe through verification of thumb impressions.

Siddique Khan Baloch, an independent candidate who later joined the PML-N, was declared winner from this constituency in 2013 general elections.

Major development took place in this "electoral probe" last week when on June 6, the Supreme Court suspended the LHC stay order granted against the Election Tribunal's decision to refer the matter to Nadra for verification of thumb impressions of all the votes polled in the constituency on May 11, 2013.

The officials belonging to the office of District & Sessions Judge Lodhran are busy packing the vote-bags in big cartoons which will be shifted to the Nadra Headquarters in Islamabad as per orders of the Election Tribunal. The order of the Election Tribunal has now got Supreme Court's backing. "We are ready to dispatch them to anywhere", said a court official.

General public in Lodhran is excited. Every gathering on a street shop or tea-corner has only one topic to discuss upon - what will be fate of thumb impressions' verification?

However, lawyer community in Lodhran finds PTI's bigwig Jahangir Khan Tarin in a better legal position as his case is being pleaded by one of the most senior lawyers of Pakistan Mr Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, whom they believe to be the 'draftsman' of 1973 Constitution of Pakistan. " Pirzada sahib will surely convince the Court that had there been no weight in Mr Tarin's petition, he ( Mr Pirzada) would never have opted to be Mr Tarin's counsel"; commented Lodhran Bar Association President Azhar Khan Langah.

Rumours are also ripe that Siddique Khan Baloch could tender resignation any time on the advice of the PML-N leadership so that any untoward report about thumb impressions may be averted before it goes public.

One thing is very clear: the outcome of thumb impressions' verification in NA-154 is likely to jolt the national politics. If the verification of thumb impression goes in PTI's favour, the government will have to face untold pressure about legality of its mandate. If the verification goes otherwise, the PTI will be in no man's land.