A three-judge inquiry commission tasked to inquire into allegations of systematic rigging in the 2013 general elections has submitted its 300-page report to the law ministry which was subsequently forwarded to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for approval before it is made public. The commission is said to have rejected the rigging allegations levelled by Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and validated the elections as the will of the people.
The commission, led by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk, had completed the 86-day-long inquiry on July 3 and reserved its judgment. Other members of the commission were Justice Amir Hani Muslim and Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan of the Supreme Court. Since April 9, the commission had held 39 hearings, during which 69 witnesses were presented.
Soon after official sources confirmed that the report was submitted to the law ministry, the counsel from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) claimed that the panel has rejected the allegations of systematic rigging and instead validated the 2013 elections.
“I’ve been told by my client [PML-N] that the [inquiry commission] report has been received by the federal government and that it has rejected PTI’s allegations of rigging in the 2013 general elections,” Advocate Shahid Hamid told The Express Tribune, clarifying that he has not seen the report himself.
Advocate Hamid recalled that according to the memorandum of understanding (MoU), signed between his client and Imran Khan’s PTI to constitute the commission, both parties had agreed to accept the commission’s verdict.
Noting that the federal government was bound by law to make the report public, Advocate Hamid said the government might go public with the report Wednesday night or on Thursday morning. Now the issue of electoral fraud should be treated as ‘past and closed’ and all political parties should focus on real issues, he added.
Sources, however, said the commission has pointed out procedural irregularities in the 2013 elections but held that on the basis of these irregularities, the elections could not be declared void. The commission, they said, has also given some recommendations for improving the electoral system in future.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is said to have convened a meeting of legal experts to confer with them before making the commission’s report public.
Meanwhile, PTI’s legal task force chairman Ishaq Khan Khakwani said that since the commission report has not been shared with the party, they could not comment on it. PTI Chairman Imran Khan had personally witnessed the commission’s proceedings in courtroom No-1. PTI’s counsel Abdul Hafeez Pirzada could not be reached for comments as he is hospitalised in the United Kingdom these days.
The commission was formed through a presidential decree after the ruling PML-N and opposition PTI had signed an MoU to put an end to the electoral fraud controversy. The scope of the commission was:
a.) to inquire into and determine whether or not the May 2013 general elections were organised, conducted impartially, honestly fairly and justly in accordance with law
b.) the 2013 elections were manipulated or influenced pursuant to a systematic effort or by design by anyone and
c. The results of the 2013 elections on an overall basis are a true and fair reflection of the mandate given by the public.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2015.
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