ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has named Defence Minister Pervez Khattak as head of a bipartisan parliamentary committee tasked with probing allegations of rigging in the 2018 general election.
Khattak’s name was initially suggested by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the approval by the PM during a meeting with National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser.
During the meeting, the issue of the appointment of Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman also came under discussion, but the decision was deferred until the return of Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi who is currently in the US to attend the UN General Assembly session, according to officials.
On Thursday, Speaker Qaiser approved the formation of a 24-member parliamentary committee to look into the allegations of rigging. The committee, it was announced, would have equal representation from the government and the opposition. Two-thirds of its members would be from the National Assembly and one-third from the Senate.
The government and opposition parties are in the process of finalising names for the committee.
According to sources, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Dr Shireen Mazari, Shafqat Mehmood, Ali Muhammad Khan and Shibli Faraz will represent the government side.
The PML-Q, a coalition partner of the PTI government, had forwarded the name of MNA Tariq Bashir Cheema for the committee, said the committee.
The government is also learnt to have sought nominations from its other allies, including the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA), the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).
According to the sources, nominees from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) include Ahsan Iqbal, Murtaza Javed Abbasi, Rana Sanaullah, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and Chaudhry Tanveer. The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has not yet forwarded any names in this regard.
On September 18, the government and the opposition had agreed to form a committee to probe the rigging allegations, a day after PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari warned of launching a series of protests.
Later, Senator Raza Rabbani called for the inclusion of senators in the committee. The government acceded to this demand.
Soon after the general election, the PML-N and the PPP leaders expressed reservations over the conduct of elections.
PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif criticised the delay in the transmission of results and alleged that his party’s representatives had been barred from entering polling stations during the vote count.
PPP Chairman Bilawal and several other party leaders also complained of non-provision of ‘Form 45’, among other irregularities.
Politicians’ reaction turned severe after ECP Secretary Babar Yaqoob acknowledged that the result transmission system (RTS) had collapsed and the commission would revert to the traditional method of tabulating results, causing further delays.
As the new assembly was sworn in, opposition parties called for a probe into what they called rigging of the election.