The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has raised questions over the ‘neutrality’ of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) before the inquiry commission probing alleged organised rigging charges in the 2013 general elections.
Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, PTI counsel, informed the three-judge commission, headed by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk, that the ECP on every step of the way balked at providing the record of the last elections, adding that the poll authority should have made available the entire record pertaining to the elections 2013 on day one.
The PTI counsel exonerated the army from allegations of rigging, saying: “The army was only to provide protection and not to do audit or counting of the ballot papers. The army was not supposed to sign the inventory. The printing of extra ballot papers was the responsibility of the ECP.”
The senior lawyer contended that the top election supervisory authority has failed to perform its constitutional obligations and now the burden has been shifted on the shoulders of the inquiry commission.
“Widespread and pervasive illegality is committed in the elections, which is beyond doubt,” the PTI attorney alleged, saying the mandate is not true will of the people.
He argued that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) secured 85% of total votes from Punjab, while its leader Lt-Gen Abdul Qadir Baloch only obtained 7,300 votes. He contended that though it is said that the turnout in Balochistan was 42%, but what the ROs and POs from the province told the commission is startling: in many polling stations not even a single vote was cast.
The commission, Pirzada said, is empowered to give findings on the 2013 elections and the preponderance of evidence will determine the report of the commission, adding that the commission has to not adjudicate, but to probe the allegations of riggings.
He argued that though previous elections were also flawed, but it does not mean two wrongs make a right. He urged the inquiry commission to give independent findings.
The PTI counsel maintained that the PML-N started dialogue with the PTI in September 2014 and back and forth 12 meetings were held, and then the government conceded to have the high-powered commission. The manipulations were beyond doubt to prove the allegations of rigging. He called for the commission to inquire and determine these facts.
He said the MoU was a political agreement which stipulated that if the general elections 2013 were manipulated or influenced pursuant to systematic efforts by design by anyone then the prime minister will dissolve the National Assembly, fresh elections will be held, and caretaker cabinet will be established with the consultation of the PTI.
Otherwise, all of the PTI allegations over the veracity of the election will stand withdrawn and the party will return to the National Assembly.
The hearing is adjourned till Tuesday (today).
Published in The Express Tribune, June 30th, 2015.