ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) locked horns on Sunday over the issue of fair and free general election in 2018, with PTI expressing serious doubts over the ECP’s neutrality and impartiality in the coming elections and the ECP condemning the “irresponsible” statement of PTI chief Imran Khan.
Talking to journalists on Saturday, Mr Khan had hinted at the possibility of taking to streets again before 2018 general elections and expressed fears that fair and transparent elections were not possible without the presence of what he called neutral umpires.
In a statement on Sunday, the ECP reacted strongly to the statement of Mr Khan and said the ECP would not be influenced by the “intentional campaign” of PTI to malign the ECP.
“The Election Commission of Pakistan condemns irresponsible statement of PTI chief Imran Khan, but it will continue to work with utmost responsibility,” the ECP statement said.
It further said that any attempt by the PTI chief or any other political party leader to harm the reputation of the ECP was regrettable.
In a response to ECP’s statement, PTI spokesman Naeemul Haq said the ECP had now become a tool to meet the nefarious agenda of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
He also accused the ECP of delaying the disposal of a reference sent to it by National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq “on the basis of dishonesty and unfairness” against the PTI chief. He said the ECP had never tried to hold fair, free and transparent elections in the country.
“Former Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim, instead of making the polls transparent, preferred to stay in Karachi and gave all powers and authority to “loyalist” of N-League retired Justice Riaz Kiani,” Mr Haq said.
He said that rules and regulations of the ECP had been violated all over the country and despite spending millions of rupees, the commission neither got ink of good quality nor managed to get clear thumb impressions on ballet papers.
The PTI spokesman said the ECP had disappointed the PTI on the occasion of several by-elections also and the modus operandi of the appointment of new members of the commission had also raised doubts among the people.
Published in Dawn January 2nd, 2017