Minister for Information Firdous Ashiq Awan on Friday said that it was uncanny that Prime Minister Imran Khan had been issued a show-cause notice by the Election Commission of Pakistan over a visit to Ghotki.
The premier had visited Ghotki on Wednesday to condole the death of federal minister for narcotics control Ali Mohammad Mahar. Mahar’s death has necessitated a by-election for the NA-205 seat. The by-election is scheduled to take place on July 18.
The ECP has issued show-cause notices to the prime minister, Minister for Inter-provincial Cooordination Dr Fehmida Mirza, Minister for Privatisation and Aviation Muhammad Mian Soomro and Sindh Govermor Imran Ismail for visiting Ghotki prior to the by-election. In the show-cause notice, all of the ministers have been given one week to submit a reply on the matter.
According to Para 17(b) of the ECP code of conduct, no member of parliament can visit a constituency where by-elections are scheduled after the dates for the election have been notified.
"The prime minister had gone to Ghotki to convey his condolences over the death of an esteemed member of his Cabinet, federal minister for narcotics control Ali Mohammad Mahar. There was no press conference and the prime minister did not announce any packages for the people of the area," Awan said while speaking to the media outside the Parliament.
"In spite of this, the ECP in Sindh, on the request of a candidate that had gone to submit his candidacy papers in full police protocol, chose to send a show cause notice to Prime Minister Imran. This episode has made it clear to us that our fight is not over; our institutions are not fully independent as yet and that we have to work towards truly free and fair elections," she added.
"It is strange that ECP issued a notice to the prime minister for visiting Ghotki, but the same commission turned a blind eye when the Sindh CM opened his coffers for campaigning, or when sitting members of parliament went to places and tried to entice the population with attractive development offers," the minister for information alleged.
Moving on to matters of accountability, Awan alleged — without naming names — that a member of the opposition had asked for an "NRO" on the floor of the National Assembly.
"A member of the opposition, who had come to the National Assembly on the basis of a production order, made a very sugar-coated request for a NRO on the floor of the assembly when he said 'hisab kitab bandh kero' (end accountability)," Awan concluded.
Awan seemed to be referring to PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, who had taken the floor in yesterday's NA session to say, "Arresting me doesn't make any difference to the party; the PPP is further strengthened — But the average person is worried that if Zardari sahab can be caught, what will happen to me."
He had then made the remarks Awan quoted during her press conference.