Deadlock persists over poll rigging panel’s terms of reference

Published December 4, 2018
(Left to right) MNAs Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Ayaz Sadiq and Khursheed Shah. — File photo
(Left to right) MNAs Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Ayaz Sadiq and Khursheed Shah. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: With the opposition accusing the government of looking for an escape route, a fresh deadlock has ensued over the terms of reference (ToR) for the parliamentary panel constituted to probe the allegations of rigging in the 2018 general elections.

A sub-committee of the parliamentary panel met on Monday under the chairmanship of convener, Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood. The government finally handed over its ToR for the committee to the opposition, only to be rejected for being vague and too brief. Under the proposed ToR, the government wants the parliamentary body to hold an inquiry whether the Election Commission of Pakistan conducted the 2018 elections in a transparent manner and in accordance with the law, besides looking into the steps taken by the ECP to curb electoral irregularities.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, Shafqat Mehmood said the general elections were transparent and in accordance with the demands of the Constitution. He also referred to the reports of the European Union and the Free and Fair Election Network and accused the opposition of trying to politicise the issue and make the polls controversial.

He disclosed that a reference over the legal status of the parliamentary committee had reached the National Assembly speaker. After the previous meeting, he had said a letter had been written by him to chairman of the committee Pervez Khattak and a response was still awaited.

Opposition accuses government of looking for an escape route

Talking to reporters, Syed Naveed Qamar of the Pakistan Peoples Party said it was clear from day one that the government did not want to move forward. He said the matter about ToR was very simple and the committee was supposed to probe the allegations of poll rigging.

Rana Sanaullah of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz said the basic thing was that the elections were not transparent and a level-playing field had been denied to many opposition parties.

Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2018

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