ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Monday defended the chief election commissioner (CEC) and said former premier Imran Khan was exerting pressure on the Election Commission of Pakistan to influence the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) foreign funding case.

He praised CEC Sikander Sultan Raja for withstanding the pressure of the former government and improving the standing of the ECP.

The PPP chairman’s comments came in the wake of the PTI announcing protests outside the offices of the ECP throughout the country on Tuesday (today) against the CEC over his allegedly biased behaviour. And responding to PTI chairman Imran Khan’s demand for his resignation, CEC Raja said he had no intentions of doing so and that he would continue working in the best interests of the country.

In a press statement issued on Monday, Mr Bhutto-Zardari said they supported all institutions in their effort to transition from controversial to constitutional roles. “Imran Khan’s politics now is to target all institutions with his ‘Mujay kyun nahi bachaya’ campaign. His politics is now based on lies and propaganda,” he said.

SCBA chief advises against making election commission controversial, demands action against anti-judiciary social media drive

The PPP chairman claimed people knew that the only reason Mr Khan was targeting the ECP was that the CEC, who had been selected by the PTI itself, had refused to turn the commission into the former ruling party’s Tiger Force. Mr Raja has stood with his institution and the Constitution, and if this continued then there were hopes of seeing an empowered ECP in the future, Bilawal said in the statement.

He also chastised Imran Khan for giving a protest call at ECP offices, saying it was a blatant pressure tactic to further “bully, blackmail and pressure” the institution into not releasing the “damning” decision in the PTI’s foreign funding case. “All such efforts will fail. Truth will prevail, Insha’Allah,” he added.

Legal fraternity defends ECP

Meanwhile, Supreme Court Bar Association president Ahsan Bhoon at a joint presser with PBC vice chairman Hafeezur Rehman Chaudhry and LHCBA office-bearers on Monday advised political parties against making the ECP controversial if it issues decisions under the law and not as per a ruler’s whims.

He said the lawyer fraternity believed the ECP comprised impartial and competent officials, and demanded appointment of its two members at the earliest.

He criticised the anti-judiciary social media campaign by some “disgruntled” elements and demanded action against those responsible for the “ridiculous” drive to malign the judiciary. However, he also asked the ECP to probe into funds of all political parties under the law.

Talking about ‘Lettergate’, Mr Bhoon said the previous government concealed the document for 20 days after receiving it on March 7. Saying it was against diplomatic norms, which was affecting the foreign policy, he advised against playing politics on such critical issues that could isolate Pakistan among the global community and damage national institutions.

Published in Dawn, April 26th, 2022

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