Pakistan government to challenge unseating of minister

Pakistan's ruling party said Wednesday it would challenge an election tribunal that unseated the country's railways minister over alleged irregularities in the 2013 general election.

Khawaja Saad Rafique won the NA-125 seat in the eastern city of Lahore with a majority of nearly 40,000 as the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) swept to a landslide victory in May 2013.

But the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) party, led by former cricket star Imran Khan, has claimed widespread fraud tainted the poll which made Nawaz Sharif prime minister for a third time.

Pakistan's Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique talks to the media outside a court in Lahore on May 4, 2015

Pakistan's Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique talks to the media outside a court in Lahore on May 4, 2015 ©Arif Ali (AFP/File)

"Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government has decided to challenge the verdict in the Supreme Court", planning minister Ahsan Iqbal told reporters.

Rafique's PTI rival Hamid Khan, who came second in NA-125, had filed a petition against the election result. The tribunal on Monday ruled in favour of Khan and ordered a fresh poll in his constituency.

The PTI has waged a national campaign calling for the investigation into allegations of rigging and staged a 126-day sit-in protest in front of parliament last year.

The party says results were changed in at least four constituencies -- including Rafique's -- through fraud.

Pakistan last month formed a nationwide judicial commission under the Supreme Court chief justice to investigate rigging in elections throughout the country.

The commission has asked political parties to provide evidence and is due to start examining witnesses later this week.

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