Finally, Imran Khan has something to cheer about. Punjab election commission’s tribunal on Saturday ordered re-polling in National Assembly constituency, NA-122, declaring the election in the constituency null and void. The decision lends a measure of legitimacy to the extensive dharna and the rigging narrative, and more importantly is a personal victory for Imran Khan – his supporters can take solace in the fact that their leader was not defeated by the ex-Speaker National Assembly, Ayaz Sadiq, after all. They took more than mere solace; the scenes of celebration at the PTI Chairman’s residence recalled the heydays of the dharna – and one would be forgiven for thinking that they had won that they Judicial Commission decision on nationwide rigging rather than in one constituency.

We cannot begrudge the PTI their jubilation, of late they have been widely and roundly criticized for their destabilizing sit-ins. Predictably, and a little worryingly, the ‘rigging’ narrative returned as Imran Khan addressed party supporters, as did threats of further sit-ins if the Election Commission Pakistan did not reply to PTI’s letter to them. With MQM causing the government a headache, and religious parties hindering implementation of the NAP, a resurgent PTI pushing the rigging narrative would be the last thing the government wanted. The direction the party takes from this moment forward is still undecided; so far the party has played a constructive role in the parliament after their return, and it is hoped they continue to do so.

As for Ayaz Sadiq, the removal as the Speaker of National Assembly must come as a disgrace. While he and his legal consul stresses that the tribunal declared the election null and void based on ‘irregularities’ in the election process – the blame for which is laid at the ECP’s doorstep – and not evidence of rigging, the distinction matters very little for the wider population. He reserves the right to appeal, and the final result may yet change, but the political implications of this initial verdict are already being felt.

The PTI has restored some legitimacy, while the PML-N rests comfortable on the right side of the Judicial Commission decision; the prudent path would be for both parties to count their blessings and work together in their future – in the height of the dharna it was impossible to imagine such a relatively win-win scenario. Of course the decision may end up giving the party their second wind, and they could react with much less poise and circumspection than the PML-N did after its victory; but it is hoped the PTI has learned from its mistakes during the past months.