The political parties claiming that the 2013 general elections were rigged were told by the judicial commission investigating the vote fraud allegations to fill out a questionnaire asking the parties if the polls were “systematically” rigged and, if so, to identify the perpetrators.
Appearing before the inquiry panel on Wednesday, the deadline for submitting the questionnaire, the PTI and the PPP told the inquiry panel that it was the commission’s responsibility to gather evidences on rigging.
“The role of the PTI and other political parties raising allegations in relation to the 2013 general elections cannot and ought not to be construed or treated as that of a prosecutor, as this was neither the intent of the PTI nor is this consistent with the underlying letter, spirit and scheme of the ordinance itself or the inquisitorial role and function of the commission,” read the PTI’s response.
It also said that as it was an opposition party in the national and Punjab assemblies, it could not have direct access to all the material and evidence.
The PTI’s response said the elections were rigged through co-opting and colluding with the returning officers, the presiding officers and the manipulation and manoeuvring of the bureaucracy in Punjab, adding that the plan of rigging was implemented by the ruling PML-N and its supporters.
“The elections were rigged in both NA and PA constituencies, particularly in Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan.”
The PML-Q submitted a list of 12 persons as witnesses and requested the commission to summon the incumbent directors general of the ISI and the MI to record their statements regarding the poll rigging.
Dr Khalid Ranjha, the party’s counsel, said the registrar of the Lahore High Court should be asked to produce the record of the ROs’ appointment and their transfers to the relevant constituencies.
The statement pleaded the commission to ask the Supreme Court’s registrar to produce the record of complete communication of the then CJP with the ROs as well as the ECP to determine whether the CJP was exercising continuing control over the ROs.
The PML-Q also called for summoning former CEC Fakhruddin G Ebrahim and asking him if other institutions had interfered in the working of the ECP. “Senior investigative journalists should also be summoned to record their statements regarding their claim of poll rigging.”
May 5 hearing
After deciding on the modalities, the inquiry panel decided to start recording evidences submitted by the PTI.
The three-judge commission, headed by CJP Nasirul Mulk, held an in-camera meeting with the counsels of all the political parties for setting out the modalities for further proceedings.
The meeting decided that the panel will start examining evidences and record statements of witnesses submitted by the PTI from May 5 and the legal team of the PML-N would cross-examine the witnesses.
The panel told the media that their coverage should not be biased. “There should be no discussions and comments, and the reporting should be based on facts,” said CJP Nasir. “Not just the media but the political parties are also trying to hamper the proceedings.”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 30th, 2015.
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