ISLAMABAD/ LAHORE: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Monday questioned the neutrality of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday before a judicial inquiry commission probing alleged rigging in May 2013 elections.
PTI counsel’s Abdul Hafeez Pirzada argued before the three-judge commission, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Nasirul Mulk that the ECP had resisted at every step to provide the record of elections. He contended that the poll body should have made available the entire record pertaining to elections 2013 on day one.
Prizada, however, exonerated the army from allegations of rigging, saying, “The army was only [present] to provide protection and not to do audit or count the ballot papers. The army was not supposed to sign the inventory.”
The counsel argued that the ECP had failed to discharge its constitutional obligations. “Widespread and pervasive illegality is committed in the elections, which is beyond doubt,” the PTI counsel claimed, adding that the incumbent mandate was not the true will of the people.
He further argued that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) secured 85 per cent of total votes from Punjab, while its leader Lt-Gen Abdul Qadir Baloch only obtained 7,300 votes. He added that while the turn out in Balochistan was being claimed at 42 per cent, it was astonishing how ROs and POs from Balochistan stated that in many polling stations no vote had been cast.
He argued that while previous elections were also flawed, it does not mean that two wrongs make a right. He urged the commission to give independent findings.
The PTI counsel maintained that the PML-N started dialogue with the the party in September 2014 and around 12 meetings were held. Subsequently, the government agreed to form a high-powered commission to probe rigging.
“The systematic methodical efforts by design by anyone,” the PTI counsel said.
He said the MoU was a political agreement and it was decided in that if the general elections 2013 were manipulated or influenced by anyone then the prime minister would dissolve the National Assembly, and fresh elections will be held under a caretaker cabinet established in the consultation with PTI.
The chief justice said that the question 3(c) is the consequential of question 3(a) and 3(b), adding that question 3(c) has to be established.
President of Pakistan on April 4, 2015 promulgated an Ordinance to probe the allegations of rigging in the general elections 2013. Under that the commission was established to inquire into and determine; a) the general elections 2013 were organized and conducted impartiality, honestly, fairly, justly and in accordance with law; b) the general elections 2013 were manipulated or influenced pursuant to a systematic efforts by design by anyone, and c) the results of the general elections 2013 on an overall basis, are a true and fair reflection of the mandate given by the electorate.
Pirzada urged the commission to complete its report under section 7 of Ordinance on General Elections Inquiry Commission 2013.
The hearing was adjourned till Tuesday.
Election probe would expose ECP’s role: Imran
PTI chairman Imran Khan said on Monday that while the electoral system would be reformed with the formation of the judicial commission, in the process, the role of the ECP during the 2013 general elections would also be exposed.
Addressing recently appointed office bearers of different committees under the newly formed caretaker PTI Lahore district body, Imran said that regardless of the commission’s verdict, Pakistan would move ahead with an overhaul of the country’s electoral system. He also predicted a general election before the local government elections due in September.
He commended his party workers and leadership for their efforts during the 126-day long sit-in, as a result of which a commission to probe 2013 polls was formed.
Alleging that the elections were not held as per the Constitution, Imran claimed that the election had been completely handed over to the Returning Officers, disregarding the law.
He alleged that 25 million ballots were found to have no records. On PTI’s allegations regarding organised rigging during the May 2013 elections, he said that the party would also prove this.
The PTI chief further claimed that the Rs400 million Risk Management System (RMS), funded by UNDP, to relay results collated from RO’s, was first slowed down, before being shut down completely later after Nawaz Sharif’s speech on election day.