ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday gave 15 more days to Minister for Railways Azam Swati to submit his reply to the show-cause notice issued to him for his caustic remarks and allegations against the commission and the chief election commissioner (CEC).
Azam Swati, along with a junior counsel, appeared before a two-member ECP bench comprising Nisar Ahmed Durrani and Shah Mohammad Jatoi.
The bench was informed that Barrister Ali Zafar was out of Islamabad and, therefore, one month was required to submit a written response to the notice, which had sought proof of the serious allegations the senior vice president of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf had levelled against the ECP.
The ECP told the counsel for the minister that one-month period was too long before ECP member Durrani said: “Ask your client to file his reply to the show-cause notice within 15 days.”
Provincial election commissioners directed to ensure immediate delimitation for LG polls
The Election Commission then adjourned the hearing of the case until November 11.
Mr Swati later told reporters outside the ECP building that his appearance before the commission had “enhanced the latter’s prestige”.
“I came here out of respect for the commission,” the minister claimed, but chose not to respond to the question if he felt sorry for the words he uttered for the ECP and the CEC. “I thank Allah (The Almighty) that I had not been summoned in a case of corruption or any other illegal [matter],” he remarked.
Over a month after issuing the first show-cause notice, the ECP had on October 21 issued another notice to the minister, requiring him to appear in person before it to explain his position with regard to his contemptuous remarks.
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry is also on a notice to appear before the commission to explain his position over similar charges.
On September 10, Azam Swati had accused the ECP of taking “bribes and always rigging” polls and said such institutions should be set on fire.
He also alleged the ECP was “poking fun at the government” and “trying to ruin the democracy”. He continued with the tirade the following days and questioned the CEC’s appointment.
The information minister in an onslaught on the ECP accused it of becoming the opposition’s headquarters with the CEC being their ‘mouthpiece’.
On Tuesday, the ECP issued directive for the provincial election commissioners to immediately contact the chief secretaries/relevant agencies to ensure immediate delimitation for local government elections in the provinces.
After hearing the respective provincial governments, the ECP issued the directive to its provincial election commissioners during a meeting chaired by CEC Sikandar Sultan Raja. The ECP members, secretary and other officials were present at the meeting, which was also attended by the four provincial election commissioners via video link.
At the meeting, the ECP was briefed on the conduct and management of tehsil and village/neighbourhood council elections in 17 districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The commission was informed that notification about district returning officers, returning officers, assistant returning officers had been issued and necessary election training of lead trainers completed at the election academy, whereas the training of returning officers and district returning officers would be completed by October 29.
The ECP expressed satisfaction over the arrangements made so far and said holding of local government elections in the provinces was the constitutional and legal responsibility of the ECP.
The commission, which was also apprised of the review process of electoral rolls for the 2023 general elections, directed that all such steps be taken to ensure registration of votes of all eligible persons and expulsion of votes of all deceased persons. Officials were directed to provide all possible assistance to the voters who wanted to transfer their vote to a permanent or temporary address according to their computerised national identity cards.
Published in Dawn, October 27th, 2021