ISLAMABAD: As the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf steps up campaign against the Election Commission of Pakistan following the latter’s decision not to allocate the symbol of bat to the PTI candidates in by-polls for its failure to hold intra-party elections, the ECP has rejected the charge of singling out the PTI as ridiculous.
A senior ECP official, while talking to reporters, called upon all stakeholders to respect and support the legal framework governing the electoral process to allow the ECP to fulfil its constitutional mandate. ECP additional secretary Fida Muhammad pointed out that according to Article 17 of the Constitution, coupled with Section 3 of the Political Parties Order (PPO), 2002, every citizen or a body of individuals or association of citizens had a right to set up a political party subject to law.
He said the party leader and its office bearers at the federal, provincial and local levels were required to be elected periodically through secret ballot based on a democratic and transparent system. He pointed out that the term could not go beyond four years.
The party leader is required to submit to the ECP a certificate within seven days from completion of the intra-party elections to the effect that the elections have been held in accordance with the party’s constitution and the PPO. Moreover, every political party is to submit to the ECP a consolidated statement of accounts of the party within sixty days from the close of each financial year.
Scrutiny of lawmakers’ assets to be completed by June 30
The ECP official said that only after these formalities, a political party became eligible as per Section 14 of the PPO to obtain an election symbol.
He said that PTI’s intra-party elections were due by March 23, which they did not conduct, thereby losing eligibility to obtain symbol for by-election for a Punjab Assembly seat (PP-23 Chakwal).
He said the PTI would not be able to contest any other future elections till compliance with the law.
When his attention was drawn to an order passed by the Lahore High Court’s Rawalpindi bench allowing the PTI to contest a by-poll from Chakwal on its traditional symbol of bat, he said: “The ECP is yet to receive written orders, which will be looked into to decide the future course.”
Statements of assets
The ECP official said it showed they did not recognise the Constitution and electoral laws. He asked the PTI leadership to at least adhere to their own constitution, which stipulates a term of four years for its elected office-bearers.
In the same way, he added, the PTI’s objection to issuance of notice to Imran Khan for discrepancy in his statement of assets and liabilities was meaningless. He pointed out that such notices had been issued to many MNAs, including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and almost every member of his cabinet.
He said a directorate of political finance had been set up to scrutinise statements of assets and liabilities of lawmakers as part of reforms.
The ECP official said the statements of 320 MNAs had so far been scrutinised, adding that majority of those issued notices had sent clarifications while response from others was awaited.
He said the scrutiny was likely to be completed by April 15 after which statements of senators would be examined, followed by those of members of provincial assemblies.
He said that June 30 had been set as the target to complete the scrutiny process.
He said that the newly raised monitoring wing was monitoring election activities during the by-polls.
Violators of code
The ECP official shared a list of 30 personalities who had been issued notices during the by-polls.
It reveals that PTI chief Imran Khan was the biggest violator of the code of conduct with five notices followed by Hamza Shahbaz Sharif with three notices.
Other politicians on the list include prime minister’s adviser Ameer Muqam, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, provincial ministers of Balochistan Abdul Raheem Ziaratwal, Nasarullah Zehri and Ubaidullah Babat, Senator Usman Khan Kakar and MNAs Molvi Ameer Zaman and Abdul Majeed Khan.
Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2017