ISLAMABAD - Ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Wednesday suffered a serious blow when the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) de-seated its mayor of Rawalpindi Sardar Naseem for violating the election code.

A five-member commission headed by Chief Election Commissioner retired Justice Sardar Raza announced the decision in two separate petitions filed against Sardar Naseem by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)’s Lubna Iqbal and the PML-N’s Tahira Perveen

The petitioners had alleged that Naseem had used his influence to rig local bodies’ polls for reserved seats prior to being elected the city mayor.

In their separate but identical petitions, Iqbal and Perveen alleged that Naseem had used his influence to rig LG polls for reserved seats prior to being elected city mayor.

The petitioners maintained that Naseem had, during polls on November 15, 2016, entered a polling station and used his influence to tilt the polling process in favour of a particular candidate.

The petitioners also produced visual evidence in support of their claims.

The accused, through his lawyer, confessed to entering the polling station on that date, but maintained that he left shortly after a presiding officer objected to his presence.

Naseem categorically denied any wrongdoing.

The commission in its short order accepted the petitioners’ arguments and de-seated Naseem from his post as Rawalpindi mayor.

In its short order, the ECP set aside both elections held on 15 November 2016 and 22 December 2016 of the members and that of the mayor of the Municipal Corporation, Rawalpindi, and said follow up action in both cases shall be taken up in accordance with the law.

In his reaction, Naseem said that he had yet to receive the ECP orders and would evolve his course of legal action after consultations with the lawyers.

Legal experts believed were of the view that if Naseem failed to get a stay order within a stipulated time, the ECP would announce fresh election for the office of mayor.

Political observers say disqualification of Naseem is a serious setback to the ruling party as Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan also enjoys considerable political influence in the city.

Imran Khan won election as Member National Assembly (MNA) from Rawalpindi in the last general elections.