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ISLAMABAD: A day after Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said the upcoming general elections would be conducted by ‘aliens’, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Friday dismissed the insinuation terming it against the spirit of the Constitution and ECP mandate.

ECP spokesman Altaf Khan said at a press briefing that the commission was fully prepared to hold the elections in line with its mandate under Article 218 of the Constitution. Under the Constitution and the Elections Act 2017, the ECP was fully independent in discharge of its legal and constitutional duties, he added.

He was of the view that the people occupying important office should desist from making such “irresponsible statements”, adding that such statements were merely based on assumptions and rumours and amounted to ridiculing the Constitution.

Spokesperson says people occupying important office should desist from making such ‘irresponsible statements’

Prime Minister Abbasi had on Thursday said the next general elections would be conducted by “aliens”, and not the caretaker government. “Elections will be held by aliens, but even then we [Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz] will participate in it,” he had said in an informal chat with journalists during a reception hosted by National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq for members of the lower house of parliament.

Mr Abbasi’s statement echoed the remarks made by ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif two days ago: “Our contest is not with Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan but with the aliens.”

The remarks clearly indicate that the government is not expecting the upcoming elections to be transparent. The term ‘aliens’ has probably been coined for the first time in place of ‘angels’ and ‘invisible forces’ used in the past.

ECP meeting

In a related development, the ECP called a meeting on May 7 to devise a mechanism for scrutiny of nomination papers for candidates in the forthcoming elections.

The meeting, to be presided over by Chief Election Commissioner retired Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza, will be attended by senior representatives from the National Database and Registration Autho­rity, the National Accountability Bureau, the Federal Investigation Agency, the State Bank of Pakistan, Wapda and relevant departments.

An ECP official said the purpose of the meeting was to devise an efficient mechanism for collection of candidates’ details regarding written-off loans, default on loan and payment of utility bills, dual nationality and criminal record, if any, to ensure its timely availability to the returning officers.

The mechanism involving various departments in the scrutiny process was first introdu­ced in the 2013 polls. The ECP has already written letters to the dep­artments concerned to nominate their point persons for the purpose.

Published in Dawn, May 5th, 2018