ISLAMABAD: Informat­ion Minister Fawad Chaud­hry on Tuesday tendered an apology to the Election Commission of Pakistan for his caustic remarks against the ECP and its head.

Appearing before a two-member bench of the commission, Mr Chaudhry said he is a lawyer himself and does not want to get entangled in a cycle of notices and replies.

Requesting the bench to wind up the proceedings, he explained that being the information minister he was the spokesman for the government. “At times, I say things but the words uttered are not my own,” he remarked.

The minister said he “per­sonally respects” the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), adding that he did not abuse anyone.

“I am sorry. I apologise for my words.”

The commission asked Mr Chaudhry to submit an apology in writing.

Meanwhile, a counsel for Railways Minister Azam Swati told an ECP bench that his client would submit a reply on Wednesday (today) to the notice issued to him by the commission.

Seeking an exemption for Mr Swati from personal appearance, he informed the bench that his client could not appear before it as he was busy with the Senate proceedings.

The ECP warned that charges would be framed on the next hearing whether Mr Swati submitted his reply or not, and adjourned the proceedings till Dec 3.

The controversy began on Sept 10 when Mr Swati accused the ECP of receiving bribes and rigging elections, adding that such institutions should be set on fire.

He levelled the allegations during a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs before voting on two key election-related bills and came days after the ECP raised objections over the proposed internet voting for overseas Pakistanis.

The same evening, the two federal ministers launched a fresh attack on the ECP, with Information Minister Chaudhry accusing the ECP of becoming “the opposition’s headquarters”.

Mr Chaudhry also alleged that the CEC was acting as a “mouthpiece of the opposition”.

Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2021

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