The government will initiate a contempt of court case against the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) if they do not resign from their positions, government ministers said in a press briefing on Tuesday.
“We are working with the Attorney General of Pakistan, and if the ECP (members) does not resign, we will go for contempt of court proceedings against them,” Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry said while addressing media.
“We believe that the ECP (CEC and members) should go itself, otherwise we have legal options,” the minister warned.
He said that the commission is not serving its intended purpose, and cannot be deemed a credible body unless all political parties have faith in it.
“A disputed ECP cannot take matters forward,” Fawad Chaudhry said.
He was accompanied in the press briefing by Minister for Industries Hammad Azhar.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has been at odds with the ECP since the Senate elections of March 3, when opposition candidates won the majority of senate seats. The loss of government candidate Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh against Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, the joint candidate of the opposition alliance Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), at securing an important Islamabad seat also proved a setback for the ruling party.
The government alleges that the ECP failed to uphold the Supreme Court’s order advising the body to ensure transparent elections with the use of technology.
“It is the responsibility of the Election Commission to end corrupt practices from the electoral process and it can utilise technology in this regard,” said the apex court on March 1. The Supreme Court was opining on a presidential reference filed by the government for the use of open balloting in the senate elections. The court maintained that the polling take place through secret ballots.
Following the result of the elections, Prime Minister Imran Khan accused the ECP of contributing to the decay of democracy in the country by not preventing rigging in the Senate elections.
In response, the ECP issued a strong rebuttal maintaining that the Senate elections had been held as ordained under the Constitution and so criticism levelled against the body was unwarranted.
The government has since been calling for the resignation of ECP members for its failure to follow court orders and retain the confidence of all political parties.