Unbowed by demos, ECP vows to fulfil ‘lawful duties’

Published April 27, 2022
The Election Commission of Pakistan plaque outside its building in Islamabad. — Photo courtesy Radio Pak/File
The Election Commission of Pakistan plaque outside its building in Islamabad. — Photo courtesy Radio Pak/File

ISLAMABAD: Unmoved by the PTI’s continued outburst against it and the countrywide pro­test staged outside its offices, the Election Com­mission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday ple­dged to discharge its constitutional responsibi­lities without fear or succumbing to any pressure.

The ECP in a statement said it had been impartially discharging its legal and constitutional obligations, and would keep on doing so without any fear or favour.

It said the National Assembly speaker had sent declarations under Article 63-A against 20 MNAs to the chief election commissioner (CEC) on April 14, which had been fixed for hearing on April 28.

Likewise, it said, the Punjab Assembly speaker had sent declarations against 26 members on April 20, who had been issued notices for May 6. A notice had also been issued to the party concerned, it said.

The commission pointed out that under the law, the ECP must decide on declarations within 30 days of their receipt.

About the foreign funding cases against the PTI, PML-N, PPP and PPP-P, it said the ECP’s scrutiny committee had submitted its report on the foreign funding case against the PTI to the commission in December, which was now in its conclusive stage.

It said that arguments by the respondent side (PTI) were under way and the hearing would take place from Wednesday to Friday for concluding arguments by him.

It said the scrutiny committee would hear foreign funding cases against PML-N, PPP and PPP-P on May 9 and it had sought some necessary record for this purpose.

It further said the ECP had also asked the chairman of the scrutiny committee to submit report/reports on these cases by April 28. It held respective political parties responsible for the delay in hearing and proceedings on these cases one pretext or the other.

It said that Amir Mahmood Kiani on January 20, 2020, had filed an application seeking audit of accounts of 101 political parties, including the PTI, from year 2014 to 2018. After undertaking the scrutiny exercise, the commission had issued notices to 18 political parties on Feb 3, 2020, fixing the case for regular hearing on February 18, 2020.

It said that political parties had been using delaying tactics in this case as well and ex parte proceedings had been initiated parties that neither submitted replies nor appeared before the commission.

A senior official of the ECP told Dawn the commission would be in a comfortable position to hold general polls by the end of October, if a political decision to hold early elections was taken. “In that case we will not wait for the fresh population census the government intends to start in August,” he said.

He said the elections in such a situation will be held in accordance with the ongoing delimitation based on 2017 census. He said the mere initiation of population census would in no way be a legal hitch in the way of snap polls.

Published in Dawn, April 27th, 2022

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