ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League- Quaid (PMLQ), while submitting its written arguments before the judicial commission tasked to probe the May 2013 elections, requested the commission on Tuesday to task the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), Military Intelligence (MI) to find out who manipulated the general elections.
“Use the investigating agencies , their teams available at the disposal of the Commission under section 6 (2) of the General Election 2013 Inquiry Commission Ordinance, 2015, to find out who manipulated, influenced the election pursuant to a systematic effort by design, as rest of the two aspects of the TORs i.e., (i) result has been materially affected; and (ii) the PML-N is the beneficiary, have already been proved,” urged the reply filed by PML-Q counsels Dr Khalid Ranjha and Mobeen uddin Qazi.
The PMLQ further argued that the commission ought to seek the services of investigating agencies which are not under the political influence of the government in power.
It stated that the (rigging) implementing hands, in the shape of Returning Officers (ROs), have been identified, whereas, suspicion for those ultimately pulling the strings obviously falls on the PML-N since it was the sole beneficiary of the ‘rigged’ elections. It argued that there was sufficient evidence and information available on the record to prove that the mandatory requirements of law were not observed, hence the election, especially in the Punjab, had lost its sanctity.
In order to reach a positive conclusion, the PML-Q said the commission is fully empowered to get basic evidence i.e., polling bags, opened in the presence of all the candidates, to confirm that the election was materially affected due to non-compliance of the mandatory provisions of section 39 ROPA, 1976, just like the examination of the sample ROs.
“Neither mandatory notices in writing of the day, time, and place fixed for the consolidation of the results were issued to the candidates nor those candidates and the election agents who themselves approached the offices of the ROs for the said purposes were allowed to attend the proceedings. The offices of the ROs were cordoned off and the candidates or their election agents were not allowed entry. To confirm this fact the affidavits of the candidates of the PML have already been placed on the record of this Commission”
PTI demands action against ROs and POs
Meanwhile, arguing on behalf of PTI, counsel Abdul Hafeez Pirzada told the commission that ROs and POs had violated the Representation of People Act 1976, which carries a sentence of two years.
“Show cause notices should be issued to those ROs and POs, who did not follow the ECP guidelines.”
Pirzada contended that the ECP, under Article 218 of the Constitution, had been entrusted to hold elections in the country, but they had failed to fulfill this obligation. This failure had led to the sanctity of ballot papers being damaged and lest corrective measures are taken, the ECP had become redundant.
The PTI counsel stated 70 to 80 per cent extra ballot papers were printed for Punjab. The purpose was to get maximum seats in the Punjab. Upon that the chief justice inquired as to whether he was suggesting that the extra-ballot papers were not printed in other provinces. He also referred the NADRA’s pre-scanned reports in NA-154 and NA-122, wherein alleged irregularities were committed.
Pirzada argued there were selective constituencies where extra ballot papers were printed, and questioned why the enormous additional ballot papers were printed for the Lahore constituencies. In the National Assembly constituencies in Punjab the ROs retained large number of ballot papers, which were not used in the elections and are unaccounted for. Furthermore, 30 per cent of Forms XV were not found.
The chief justice conceded this point, remarking that this was the case throughout the country.
The CJP, however, asked how would Pirzada co-relate the extra ballot printing and the missing Forms XV. To this, the PTI’s counsel dilated that illegality is pervasive in almost all the constituencies and something was wrong one way or the other.
Pirzada added that that something needed to be done on Election Tribunal issues, and the people losing faith in them.
The chief justice said now there are full time judges in tribunals instead of on-job judges since retired judges had been co-opted for the purpose.
Justice Amir Hani Muslim observed that the ToRs omit that the commission will give recommendations regarding the improvement of electoral system in the country.