ISLAMABAD: Late on Wednesday night, the ruling PML-N and the PTI finally signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to constitute a judicial commission that will investigate allegations of rigging in the 2013 general elections.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is expected to advise the president on Thursday to promulgate an ordinance setting up the commission. The ordinance has to be issued on Thursday because the Senate is to go into session on Friday.

Addressing a press conference at Punjab House, where the signing took place in front of media, chief government negotiator Ishaq Dar said the commission would determine whether or not the last general elections truly reflected the will of the people, preferably within 45 days. Balochistan Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik signed the document as a witness.

“In case the commission determines that the election results did not reflect the true mandate of the people, the national and provincial assemblies will be dissolved and followed by fresh elections. Otherwise, all of PTI’s allegations over the veracity of the election will stand withdrawn and the party will return to the National Assembly to play its democratic role,” Mr Dar said.

In his remarks on the occasion, PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi termed the signing of the document “a historic development”, which would go a long way in bringing true democracy to the country.

PM expected to advise promulgation of ordinance today

Senator Dar said both sides had asked Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Khurshid Shah or PPP leader Rehman Malik to sign the draft as well, but neither was available. “The PPP is very much on the board,” he said. Others who signed the document included PML-N General Secretary Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, Senator Dar, PTI General Secretary Jahangir Tareen and Mr Qureshi.

The MoU says: “The PML-N shall ensure that an ordinance under Article 89 of the Constitution shall be promulgated to provide for the formation of a judicial commission. The commission shall comprise three honourable judges of the apex court, and the parties shall be pleased if the commission includes chief justice of Pakistan as chairman.”

If the commission determines that the result of the 2013 general elections, on an overall basis, were not a true and fair reflection of the mandate, certain steps shall be taken.

Firstly, the National Assembly shall be dissolved by the Prime Minister and fresh elections shall be held. Secondly, a caretaker cabinet will be appointed in consultation with the PTI. Simultaneously, each of the provincial assemblies shall also be dissolved by their respective chief ministers and fresh elections shall be held also for them.

The PTI, according to the MoU, accepted the recent appointments of the Nadra chairman and Election Commission secretary, which were supposed to be made in consultation by both parties. Over the appointment of the DG FIA, it said, “In the event the commission exercises the power under section 6(2) of the Ordinance, the appointment of the director general Federal Investigation Agency shall be made following due process and after consultation with the PTI.”

The two sides agreed not to make any public statement calling into question – directly or indirectly – the credibility or integrity of the commission or any of its members. Both parties shall be bound by the determination of the commission and have agreed not to challenge it in any manner.

In case of any dispute or disagreement with regard to the implementation of the accord, the matter shall be referred to a dispute resolution committee consisting of four people, with two members to be nominated by each party.

Published in Dawn, April 2nd, 2015

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