PTI to file reference against chief election commissioner in Supreme Judicial Council

Published May 11, 2022
PTI leaders Fawad Chaudhry (L) and Faisal Vawda (R) speak to the media outside the Election Commission of Pakistan in Islamabad on Wednesday. — DawnNewsTV
PTI leaders Fawad Chaudhry (L) and Faisal Vawda (R) speak to the media outside the Election Commission of Pakistan in Islamabad on Wednesday. — DawnNewsTV

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Wednesday said it had decided to file a reference against Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja in the Supreme Judicial Council.

The announcement was made by former information minister Fawad Chaudhry, who said that Pakistan's "biggest political party had lost trust in him [CEC]".

Chaudhry, who was speaking to the media outside the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) alongside PTI leader Faisal Vawda, said the "biggest reason behind the political crisis that Pakistan is facing today is the election commission being non-functional as an institution".

He said it was institutions' job to "maintain a balance in the country ... and they fail to do so because appointments in them are not based on merit".

Chaudhry said PTI chief Imran Khan had suggested that the "CEC may take up a position in the PML-N", implying that Raja had been biased against the PTI and favoured the ruling party.

"When the country's biggest leadership, the biggest party loses trust in you, the respectable option is to resign, acknowledging that ... you cannot continue working if the leadership does not trust you and suggesting that a new person is appointed in your place. But unfortunately, what happened was contrary to this," he regretted.

"And this incomplete election commission — which lacks members from Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and as a result, is not representing around 70 per cent population of Pakistan — is a party against the country's biggest political leadership," he added.

In such a scenario, Chaudhry continued, the way forward for the PTI was to continue its political struggle alongside starting a "legal struggle".

Therefore, he said, the party planned to file a reference against the CEC in the Supreme Judicial Council. "Because no CEC would run his office the way [this] CEC ran his office."

Chaudhry said Faisal Vawda, "who himself has been a victim of the ECP's cruelty", had decided to file a reference against the electoral watchdog's member from Sindh, Nisar Ahmed Durrani.

Voting right for overseas Pakistanis

He also berated the incumbent government for "daring to snatch the right of voting from overseas Pakistanis".

He said a "conspiracy was hatched to deprive nine million overseas Pakistanis of this right, and we staunchly reject it".

The PTI leader added that it was in fact remittances by overseas Pakistanis that had kept the country's economy afloat.

'Pakistan's economy may end up like that of Sri Lanka'

Expressing dismay over the economy's dismal condition, Chaudhry highlighted that the value of the US dollar had risen to Rs190 and the stock market had been witnessing a declining trend.

"Pakistan's economy has been destroyed, and it is feared that it may end up like Sri Lanka's economy. This is the confidence that this 'crime minister' and his cabinet has given," the PTI leader remarked, referring to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his team.

He specifically criticised Finance Minister Miftah Ismail over his economic policies and Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah "for trying to run the government through threats".

"And FIA (Federal Investigation Agency) personnel are sent to the houses of journalists, political opponents and anchorpersons at 2am," he added.

He further berated the government for removing the names of its ministers from the no-fly list and "changing the prosecution teams of cases" in which they were accused.

Chaudhry further criticised PM Shehbaz over his trip to Saudi Arabia, claiming that the premier was accompanied by 84 of his family members.

"All the expenses of the PM House that Imran Khan had managed to save, they spent it in one trip," he alleged, adding that there was anger among the public against the incumbent government.

Meeting in London

Referring to a PML-N delegation — which is currently in London and comprises the premier and senior cabinet members — meeting party supremo Nawaz Sharif, Chaudhry said the development proved that "Pakistan's political system has been held hostage in London".

He also lashed out at the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan, saying that its "criminal element", which was associated with MQM supremo Altaf Hussain and "against whom the security forces had sacrificed their lives", was being brought to power again.

He stressed that if elections were not announced before May 20, a "worse situation than Sri Lanka" could develop since Pakistan's population was far more than its fellow South Asian country.

Chaudhry said the "political crisis" could have been resolved if cases against dissident lawmakers had been decided in the Supreme Court and the ECP.

Questioned about the PTI's criticism of the judiciary and institutions, Chaudhry said everyone trusted institutions and any criticism or appreciation was for the individuals in them.

He said judges should consider implementing the rule that their observations aren't released to the media with their names so they could avoid facing political criticism. Chaudhry said political cases were bound to invite discussion so "heart should be opened for criticism".

The former information minister was also questioned about his comments in yesterday's PTI rally in Jhelum, where he had called on the "gatekeepers" to perform their duty and let the country go to polls.

Chaudhry said the PTI was ready to "normalise" relations with institutions as well as play its part in "normalising the country", adding that all institutions should play their constitutional roles.

He reiterated that elections were the "only solution" to the current situation.

Vawda lashes out at ECP

Meanwhile, Vawda, who was disqualified as a lawmaker by the ECP for not declaring his American nationality at the time of contesting elections in 2018, said everyone was a witness to the "barbarism and injustice" committed against him.

"The ECP is the PML-N 's political wing," Vawda said.

Elaborating on the reference filed against the ECP member from Sindh, he alleged that Durrani had taken a favour from a political party and become the principal of Sindh Law College while already holding a constitutional office.

He said Durrani's case was already pending in the high court and evidence also existed regarding the matter.

The PTI leader also warned that his "next press conference" would be about the ECP member from Balochistan.

"The CEC who is the leader of all of these ... a reference is also being prepared against him and we are going to the Supreme Court with evidence."

Vawda also questioned the lack of action by the ECP on various cases of politicians in the present coalition government.



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