PTI shows no trust in chief election commissioner

Updated 25 Nov 2019

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan chairs a meeting of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s core committee 
on Sunday.—PPI
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan chairs a meeting of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s core committee on Sunday.—PPI

ISLAMABAD: Top leaders of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf have raised questions about impartiality of Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) retired Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza, who is likely to issue a verdict in the PTI’s foreign funding case before his retirement on Dec 6.

The PTI’s core committee, which met on Sunday with Prime Minister Imran Khan in the chair, reiterated its demand that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) club the foreign funding cases of all three major political players in the country — the PTI, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) — and refrain from singling out the ruling party.

A source, who attended the meeting, told Dawn that some “administrative changes” would be made soon in the PTI-ruled Punjab, when the prime minister would visit Lahore and hold a series of meetings there.

In response to a question about the PTI foreign funding case, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan told a press conference held after the core committee’s meeting: “Daal mein kuchh kaala hai, yaa saari dal hi kaali hai?”

She wondered why the chief election commissioner was in a hurry to decide the case against PTI and why similar applications by the PTI against the PML-N and PPP were not being entertained.

Changes likely in Punjab set-up soon; PM aide seeks update on Nawaz health

The PTI foreign funding case is being handled by the ECP for the last five years and the commission has decided to hear it on a day-to-day basis from Tuesday (tomorrow), giving the impression that it may be decided within the next 15 days.

“What is the urgency in deciding the case? Individuals do not matter; they come and go, but the institutions go on. The ECP should follow rules, give equal opportunities to all the parties and conduct across-the-board accountability,” Dr Awan said.

Asked what the PTI would do if the judgement in the case went against it, she said her party had already provided “all the proofs and audit reports” relating to the case.

“Although the opposition is coming up with new claims everyday that the government will no longer be there after a judgement against it, the truth will prevail when the ECP will decide the matter in the light of the Constitution and the law,” she said.

The government’s spokesperson added: “There is no harm if Pakistanis abroad consider the PTI as a saviour and support it monetarily. It is wrong to call it foreign funding because foreign funds are those which are given by a foreign organisation or country,” she said.

Dr Awan said the opposition parties that had not accepted the results of 2018 elections were now expressing confidence in the same ECP that had conducted those polls and also sought from it an early decision in the PTI foreign funding case.

Nawaz’s exit

Asked why Prime Minister Khan had recently raised questions about PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif’s departure from the country even though he [the prime minister] himself had informed the nation that the former premier was very sick, Dr Awan said: “Mr Sharif was allowed to leave the country for medical treatment on the basis of some medical reports, but now the government and the nation want to know what type of treatment is being given to him abroad and what are his latest reports.”

She said people were asking why the prime minister had allowed a convicted person to leave the country. “What Prime Minister Imran Khan said in his recent speech was the voice of the whole nation,” she maintained.

“We want to know what his ailment is.”

Islamophobia

The PTI’s core committee condemned the growing cases of Islamophobia in Europe, as reflected most recently in an incident in Norway, said the government’s spokesperson.

“Such actions add to the spread of Islamophobia and hate crimes against Muslims,” she said adding that the committee had called on the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to raise the issue and condemn the Norway incident.

The core committee also called on the European Union to take notice of the violent actions/crimes against Islam and Muslims in the EU’s member states and European countries. “Such hate-inspired actions are contrary to the EU human rights convention and the European human rights court’s decisions on the issue of limitations on freedom of expression in relation to attacks on Muslims and Islam.”

Talking about the government’s performance, she said Prime Minister Khan had asked the federal government and the provincial governments of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to complete all ongoing projects without delay so that people could benefit from them.

Asked why the name of a former director-general of the Inter-Services Public Relations, Lt Gen Asim Bajwa, had been proposed for the post of director-general of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority, she said he had been nominated on the recommendation of experts on the basis of strategic concerns and his experience.

Changes in Punjab?

It’s being speculated on social media platforms that Sardar Usman Buzdar could be removed from the post of Punjab chief minister due to frequent complaints against him.

Read: Calls for Buzdar’s ouster rising in PTI

A source said that after the core committee’s meeting, the prime minister held a separate meeting with Mr Buzdar.

The prime minister, he said, would stay in Punjab for a day or two and would make some drastic changes in the provincial set-up.

Mr Buzdar was among the PTI leaders who attended the committee meeting. Others who attended it included Jahangir Tareen, Imran Ismail, Pervez Khattak, Chaudhry Sarwar, Dr Babar Awan, Shafqat Mehmood, Dr Shireen Mazari and Dr Awan.

Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2019