SC to Decide Fate of Feb 8 Polls on Monday Amid Rigging Allegations

The Supreme Court (SC) has fixed a petition for hearing on Monday, February 19, that seeks to nullify the February 8 general elections over allegations of rigging. The petition was filed by Ali Khan, who has demanded re-elections in the country.

A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, will hear the petition. The other members of the bench are Justice Musarrat Hilali and Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar. The SC has issued a notice to the petitioner to appear before the court on Monday.

The petition has been filed in the wake of widespread allegations of rigging and irregularities in the February 8 polls, which saw a surprising victory for the candidates backed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the party of former prime minister Imran Khan, who is currently serving prison sentences on corruption charges.

Several political parties, including Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), Jamaat-e-Islami and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), have rejected the election results and accused the PTI and the military establishment of manipulating the polls. They have also staged protests and filed petitions in various courts to challenge the election outcome.

The final results of the polls were delayed for several hours, raising doubts over the transparency and credibility of the electoral process. The PTI-backed candidates, who had to run as independents due to an election commission ruling, claimed to have won more than 90 seats in the 265-member National Assembly, while the PML-N secured 69 seats and the PPP 52 seats.

However, none of the parties or alliances has been able to secure a clear majority to form the government, and the political situation in the country remains uncertain and chaotic. The PTI has claimed that it has the support of more than 150 lawmakers and has the right to form the government, while the PML-N has announced that it will seek to form a coalition with the PPP and other smaller parties, excluding the PTI.

The United States, which has been closely monitoring the situation in Pakistan, has also expressed concern over the reports of voter suppression, intimidation and rigging in the February 8 elections. The US has urged the Pakistani authorities to conduct an independent and transparent investigation into the allegations and ensure that the will of the people is respected.

Meanwhile, the Sindh High Court (SHC) has constituted a tribunal to hear the petitions pertaining to rigging in the February 8 elections in the province. The SHC chief justice has appointed two benches for the Karachi division and one bench each for the Sukkur, Hyderabad and Larkana divisions to deal with the election petitions. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Sindh had requested the SHC to form the tribunal to hear the complaints of rigging in the polls.

The February 8 elections were held amid a tense and polarized political environment, as the former prime minister Imran Khan was disqualified and jailed on corruption charges, and his party faced a severe crackdown by the military and the judiciary. The elections were also marred by violence and terrorist attacks, which claimed the lives of several candidates and voters.

The petition filed in the SC is likely to have a significant impact on the political scenario in the country, as it could lead to the annulment of the election results and the holding of fresh polls, or the validation of the existing results and the formation of a new government. The SC bench headed by CJP Isa, who is known for his independent and bold judgments, is expected to deliver a verdict that will shape the future of democracy in Pakistan.

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