ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is unlikely to act against top politicians on basis of the disclosures made in the Panama Papers, which contain details of offshore companies owned by them and members of their family.
This is impression ECP Secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh Mohammad gave during an interaction with reporters on Tuesday at the inauguration of a new media centre at the commission’s headquarters.
In his opinion, there was nothing in the Panama Papers that required the commission’s attention.
However, when asked whether the commission will be examining the leaked material to establish whether any politician had committed a corrupt practice, he said that the ECP’s Political Finance Wing will look into it. For members of parliament, concealment of assets falls under corrupt practices, which if proven, entails disqualification.
Secretary says EVMs to be tested during by-elections in Oct, Nov
He also said that no political party had moved an application seeking an ECP probe into asset concealment allegations, but did not say whether the ECP would entertain such a petition.
Talking about voting rights for overseas Pakistanis, he said an international consultant engaged for the purpose had expressed reservations over the project, adding that it could not be implemented without ensuring procedures which are 100pc error-free.
Similarly, on the issue of electronic voting machines (EVMs), the ECP secretary said tenders would soon be invited for the procurement of 400 machines and a series of trials would begin in the by-elections, to be held in October and November this year.
Responding to another question, he said there were still a few lawmakers who had not submitted their statements of assets and liabilities to the commission even a month after the deadline specified in the law had expired. While he did not name the lawmakers who had yet to submit asset details, he clarified that their membership remained suspended.
Critics say that it is essential for the ECP to disclose the names of such lawmakers to make sure that they do not attend the proceedings of parliament while they are suspended, as this would render the entire exercise worthless.
Meanwhile, the process of Rangers’ deployment for by-elections in NA-245 (Karachi) and PS-115 (Karachi) will start today (Wednesday). The elections will take place on April 7 (Thursday).
Published in Dawn, April 6th, 2016