ISLAMABAD: Minister for Railways Senator Azam Swati on Friday apologised to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) through his lawyer for his tirade against the commission and the chief election commissioner (CEC).

Taking up a show-cause notice issued to Azam Swati, an ECP bench comprising Nisar Ahmed Durrani and Shah Mohammad Jatoi expressed displeasure over the absence of the minister from the hearing, asking if he was trying to avoid personal appearance before the commission.

Mr Swati’s lawyer Barris­ter Ali Zafar informed the bench that the minister had to go to Quetta for some important work, “otherwise he would have come”.

The lawyer then submitted an apology letter on be­half of the minister to the ECP and read it out. He said the minister had appeared before the commission twice and also submitted his apology.

“I Azam Swati am a law-abiding person, a democratic man. I promote democracy and I have fought against corruption. I respect the Election Commission. My duty is to strengthen the ECP. I have always respected the ECP and did not try to scandalise it. If any such statement came from me, I apologise for it,” read the letter.

After going through the apology letter, a member of the ECP bench said the railways minister should have been present during the hearing, adding that political statements should remain confined to political discussions.

The ECP adjourned the case till December 22 after hearing arguments from Mr Swati’s counsel and directed the minister to appear in person at the next hearing.

Talking to the media outside the ECP, Barrister Zafar said the minister would appear before the commission at the next hearing.

Senator Swati had accused the ECP of taking money from companies that make electronic voting machines during a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs on September 10.

The ECP has reserved its ruling in a similar case against Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry. The minister had earlier apologised to the ECP for his slanderous remarks against the commission and CEC.

The ECP had served notices to both the ministers on September 16, seeking explanations within a week from them to clarify their position over the allegations they had levelled against CEC Sikander Sultan Raja and the commission.

Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2021

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