LAHORE -  The Election Commission of Pakistan has declared the alleged 29,000 bogus votes in the electoral rolls of NA-120 as genuine while maintaining that they will not be omitted from the voters list.

PTI, on the other hand, has challenged the decision in the Lahore High Court on the plea that NADRA had not done biometric verification of these votes and hence they should be treated as bogus. It has also maintained that these votes should be omitted from the electoral list because they could be cast in favour of the ruling party candidate Begum Kalsoom Nawaz.

Earlier, senior PTI leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi had addressed a news conference in Lahore last month to highlight the issue.

Pointing out the existence of 29,000 unverified votes in the electoral list, he had termed it an attempt by the ruling party to rig the by-election.  Later, PTI candidate, Dr Yasmin Rashid filed an application with the provincial Election Commission seeking their verification by the national registration authority.

The Election Commission, in turn, asked NADRA to verify these votes but the latter declined to do so stating it was not possible at this moment.

However, in its report submitted with the ECP, NADRA has declared that they could not be considered as bogus only because the finger points of voters were not taken at the time of their registration.

Huda Gohar, spokesperson for the provincial Election Commission, told The Nation yesterday that NADRA had maintained in its report that 29,000 votes were registered in 2006 when biometric system was not in place.

According to Ms Huda, the registration authority has also taken the plea that biometric verification of the voters in question was not possible at the moment but it has the complete bio-data of these voters.

She also stated that in the light of NADRA report, these votes were not bogus and hence would not be omitted from the voters list.

“They are all genuine voters with the only difference that their finger prints were not taken at that time”, she said.

Talking to The Nation, senior PTI leader Ejaz Ch said that PTI’s petition on the issue has been fixed for hearing in the court. He hoped the decision would come soon before the polling day.

“We would be satisfied if the Election Commission provides us with the electoral list also carrying voters photographs”, Ejaz said, adding, that ECP was bound under the law to provide such a list to all the candidates.