The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) yesterday issued a strong rebuttal to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s accusations against it in a notification. Representatives of the government registered their disappointment at the response, while opposition party members have welcomed it with glee.
The ECP on Friday had issued a press release, stating that the Senate elections on March 3 had been held as ordained under the Constitution, so criticism levelled against the ECP was unwarranted. This was in response to the Prime Minister’s speech a day earlier, when he had accused the ECP of contributing to the decay of democracy in the country by not preventing rigging in the Senate elections.
Government registers displeasure
Federal Ministers Fawad Chaudry and Shibli Faraz, while addressing media on Friday alongside Senator-elect Barrister Ali Zafar, expressed their displeasure at the ECP’s notification.
Fawad Chaudry, Minister of Science and Technology, said that he did not like the ECP’s response, terming it irresponsible.
“It is irresponsible to issue a press release on Prime Minister’s stance,” he said.
He added that the Prime Minister respected the ECP and his stance should not be misconstrued. He clarified that the Prime Minister meant that the government and the ECP should work together to “develop a mechanism that will stop rigging,” to ensure free and fair elections. He further assured the Chief Election Commissioner that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and the Prime Minister wanted the Commission, like all bodies in Pakistan, to be strong.
“I want to assure the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and members that we want to see you strong,” said Chaudhry.
However, the minister registered his shock at the ECP demaning proof of irregularities in the Senate elections.
He said that the proof was in “videos of vote-buying, Sindh Information Minister Nasir Shah’s audio, and Maryam Nawaz’s speech.”
“From Daska elections till Senate elections, you have to realise that there have been shortcomings and it cannot be said that all that has happened is correct,” said Fawad Chaudhr.
He said that the ECP should reconsider its stance instead of issuing press releases, adding that the government is always available to offer help to the Commission if needed.
PM insulted an institution, claims opposition
Speaking to press yesterday, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz said that the ECP’s notification was justified, as Prime Minister Imran Khan had insulted the Commission.
“The Election Commission gave its opinion under the Constitution, and neither the ECP has the power to amend the Constitution nor does the Supreme Court,” she said.
“Even the institutions know who is ridiculing them,” she added.
She further claimed that Senate election tickets in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were sold for billions of rupees, but the Prime Minister was focused on the Senate seat Yusuf Raza Gilani rightfully won in Islamabad.
He added the even the President has admitted that the Prime Minister has lost confidence.
PML-N spokesperson Maryam Aurangzeb also criticised the Prime Minster’s remarks about the ECP, telling him that “the power lent to you is not yours.”
Meanwhile, freshly elected Pakistan People’s Party Senator Sherry Rehman said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had “violated the Election Commission Act by insulting an institution.” She added that after the irregularities at the Daska by-polls, the Prime Minister had no moral ground to raise objections against others.