ECP accepts Azam Swati, Fawad Chaudhry's apologies over tirade against electoral watchdog

Published December 22, 2021
Railways Minister Azam Swati talks to media outside the ECP office in Islamabad on Wednesday. — DawnNewsTV
Railways Minister Azam Swati talks to media outside the ECP office in Islamabad on Wednesday. — DawnNewsTV

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday accepted the written apologies tendered by Railways Minister Azam Swati and Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry for their caustic remarks against the electoral watchdog.

The apologies were accepted by a two-member ECP bench headed by Nisar Ahmed Durrani.

Swati, along with Chaudhry, had launched a tirade against the ECP on September 10. During a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs held to discuss proposed amendments in the Elections (Amendment) Act, 2021, Swati had accused the commission of "always" rigging polls and said that such institutions should be “set on fire”.

Chaudhry, meanwhile, had alleged that the ECP took bribes to rig polls. He said the commission was making fun of the government, and that it was not entitled to “ruin” democracy in the country. His comments had prompted ECP officials present in the meeting to walk out.

On October 27, the ECP issued a show-case notice to both the ministers for their remarks and allegations against it and Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja.

Read more: 'Set such institutions on fire': Azam Swati accuses ECP of ‘taking bribes’ to rig polls

Subsequently, the information minister had tendered an apology to the ECP in person on Nov 16, while Swati submitted his written apology to the electoral watchdog on Dec 3.

In his statement, Chaudhry had said he had appeared in order to not get bogged down in a cycle of responses. "My request is that this case is finished. I am a lawyer myself. I am a mouthpiece of the government. I did not curse anyone. Accept my apology," he said.

The ECP had directed him to submit a written apology as well.

In the hearing today, Swati appeared before the ECP bench and said he had always raised his voice to make the ECP an independent watchdog.

ECP member Durrani asked Swati to avoid attacking the institutions, saying "all institutions are yours and it's inappropriate to accuse them of wrongdoings."

Later talking to the media, the railways' minister thanked the ECP for accepting his apology, adding that "measures will be taken to strengthen the ECP in every manner."

Swati's chief counsel Barrister Ali Zafar, who was also present during the hearing, said it was the responsibility of every individual to uphold the dignity of the electoral body.

"We have apologised in connection to whatever happened in the past," he said.

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