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Govt submits 'brief' ToR before poll rigging panel, opposition seeks time till Dec 13 to respond

Updated December 03, 2018

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Opposition asks for time till December 13 to reply to the government's ToR. — Dawn Archives
Opposition asks for time till December 13 to reply to the government's ToR. — Dawn Archives

A sub-committee formed by the special parliamentary committee probing allegations of rigging in the July 25 general elections on Monday issued the government's 33-word long terms of reference (ToR) and handed them over to the opposition.

The sub-committee had met on Monday under the chairmanship of its convenor, Education Min­ister Shaf­qat Mahmood. PPP's Nav­eed Qamar, PML-N's Rana Sanaullah and MQM-P's Barrister Moh­ammad Ali Saif also attended the meeting.

According to the government's brief ToR, the parliamentary committee will hold an inquiry to determine that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) organised and conducted the 2018 general elections "honestly, justly, fairly clean and in accordance with law and guarded against corrupt practices".

The opposition has asked for time till December 13 to respond to the government's proposal.

The sub-committee had been formed on Nov 10 to finalise the ToRs of the rigging inquiry.

During the last meeting of the sub-committee, the opposition parties had submitted a 10-point ToR raising crucial questions over the conduct of polls.

The ToR was prepared by the PPP and endorsed by all other opposition parties, including the PML-N.

Talking to media persons following today's session, Mehmood maintained that the "general elections were transparent, according to the law and constitutional requirements".

The minister noted that the Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen) and the European Union had published reports vindicating the conduct of the elections, and said the opposition parties were "only trying to make the elections controversial and political".

Mehmood said that according to Clause 218 of the Constitution, the government has suggested the "finest" ToR, which "covered all aspects of the opposition's demands".

"The finest investigation will be conducted while staying within the ambit of the Constitution," he added.

Responding to a question regarding the legal status of the parliamentary committee, Mehmood said a reference in this regard was sent to the committee's chairman, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, who then forwarded it to National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser for further action.

Govt doesn't want to make progress, says PPP leader

While speaking to the media, PPP's Qamar said that from the government's methodology it was clear from the very first day that they do not want progress on the matter.

"ToR is a simple issue," he said, adding, "the government has basically penned down its constitutional responsibility as the ToR."

Qamar added that in their suggestions, the government had made the ToR "very short".

"The government wants a better case to escape [the matter], but the opposition will not let them escape," he alleged.

"All opposition parties will be in mutual consultation about the situation," he said.

PML-N's Sanaullah added that the very fundamental thing was that the elections were not transparent and that the political parties had not been given a level playing field.

He said that their suggestion was to boycott the parliament but PPP had not agreed and chosen the way of holding parliamentary committee investigations instead.

"The committee has been formed but the government wants a way to escape somehow," he said, adding that if the way through parliamentary committee was stopped the other way was to protest.

He added that the government and opposition's ToR should be sent to a central committee which should take the final decision on the matter.