ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court yesterday stayed an election tribunal’s verdict to unseat a ruling party lawmaker and issued orders to put off re-election in his constituency. The Election Commission of Pakistan scheduled the NA-154 by-election on October 10 after a tribunal set aside the victory of PML-N lawmaker Sadiq Baloch over fake degree. The tribunal was moved by Baloch’s political opponent from PTI, Jahangir Tareen.

Tareen told the media outside the court that the ruling party was hiding ‘behind the court orders’ while his counsel told the bench that he was unprepared for arguments. A three-judge bench, headed by Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, heard Baloch’s appeal against the tribunal’s judgment. Justice Saqib asked Tareen’s lawyer Makdoom Ali Khan to either argue or give any solution. “I wanted the election to be held as per timetable,” the judge remarked. Makhdoom, however, said since he was abroad and reached Pakistan yesterday (Monday), he needed some time for preparation. The judge said the court would adjourn the case till tomorrow (Wednesday), but the lawyer requested adjournment for an indefinite period. On this, the judge said: “In the court saying I am not prepared and need time but on the TV channels we are being criticised by the saying that the Supreme Court has suspended the order.”

As the bench suspended the tribunal’s order, Baloch was reinstated as the member of national assembly. “The ruling PML-N is hiding behind stay orders, while the tribunal’s verdict is clear,” Tareen told the media after the SC stay. Baloch did not appear in the court but his supporters showed up. He won the Lodhran seat by securing 86,177 votes as an independent candidate and later joined the ruling PML-N.

The ECP scheduled by-election on October 6 for PP-16 (Attock) and on October 11 for NA-154 (Lodhran-I), NA-144 (Okara-II) and PP-147 (Lahore-XI). The Attock slot was created after the murder of home minister Shuja Khanzada in a suicide attack last month. The ECP announced by-election for NA-122 and NA-154 after election tribunals unseated National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq and another PML-N lawmakers Sadiq Baloch over irregularities.