• Punjab and KP assemblies to pass resolutions against poll body chief, discloses Ali Nawaz
• PPP terms move ‘attempt to blackmail’ ECP
ISLAMABAD: While the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is expected to decide the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) funding case within a fortnight, the party on Saturday decided to move a reference against Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan in the judicial commission, accusing him of meeting leaders of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
The PTI will also get resolutions against the CEC passed from Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assemblies, where it has the majority.
Besides, the party will contest elections on 11 seats of its members of National Assembly (MNAs) recently denotified by the ECP.
Sources in the ECP said it was a matter of routine that political leaders met the CEC but the most number of leaders who had meetings with the CEC belonged to the PTI. They said just a few weeks ago, PTI vice chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi had a meeting with the CEC that lasted for almost one and a half hours.
While criticising the PTI decision to move a reference, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) termed it an ‘attempt to blackmail’ the commission.
PPP leader Saleem Mandviwalla said the PTI was trying to avoid decision of prohibited funding case. “Imran Khan himself used to praise the CEC and now [he] has been trying to threaten him. What has happened that has shattered the confidence of Mr Khan in the CEC. Though we have apprehensions, we will stand by the ECP,” he added.
However, PTI member of the National Assembly from Islamabad Ali Nawaz Awan told Dawn the decision about the reference was made during the party meeting due to the ‘biased attitude’ of the CEC who the lawmaker said also had been meeting the ruling party leadership.
After the recent formation of the PTI-led coalition government in Punjab, he said resolutions would be passed against the CEC from both Punjab and KP assemblies.
“We, all MNAs, had resigned and then deputy speaker Qasim Suri had moved the letter to the ECP to de-notify us, but the ECP remained mum. Recently, a letter to de-notify 11 MNAs was sent to the ECP and it was implemented without hesitation. I assume that government wants to create unrest in the country,” he said.
Asked if the PTI would take part in by-elections on 11 seats of National Assembly, Mr Awan said it was a unanimous decision of PTI that it would not boycott any election. “We will contest all 11 elections, if held, and then we may consider resigning again from those seats,” he said.
While addressing a press conference earlier, senior vice president of the PTI Fawad Chaudhry lashed out at the CEC for meeting with leaders of ruling parties. He said the CEC met leaders of ruling coalition in sheer violation of code of conduct; wherein he discussed prohibited funding case.
He said code of conduct for the judiciary also applied to CEC Sikandar Sultan who along with ECP members had allegedly violated it. He said the ECP assured the ruling coalition of early decision on the (PTI foreign funding) case. “We are consulting our legal team for a reference against them in judicial commission,” he said, demanding their removal from the positions.
Replying to a question, he said there was nothing new in the Financial Times report, as the PTI had already declared all those accounts. He said Arif Naqvi gave an affidavit that the money was sent to the PTI through legal channels. He said parties did get such funding. Shaukat Khanum spent Rs70 billion that had come from overseas, he added.
He said they were overseas Pakistanis and the only thing party had to determine was to check if the money was being sent through legal means. “We cannot check the source of income of a donor,” the senior PTI leader said.
He said general election was the only solution to the current issues being faced by the country and it was ECP’s constitutional responsibility to hold the elections. But unfortunately the commission strengthened the “agenda of the conspiracy” by not holding the election instead, he alleged.
Sources in the ECP said it was a routine that political leaders and ministers met the CEC. “Recently, PTI leader Humayun Akhtar also had a meeting with the CEC. And while the PTI was in power, five ministers had meeting with the whole commission at the same time. It was the requirement of the seat of CEC to meet representatives of political parties at his office. Recently, a delegation of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) had a meeting with whole commission rather than CEC alone. How one party’s meeting can be right and other party’s wrong,” the sources in the commission said.
As everyone knew that the decision in the foreign finding case was reserved and would be announced soon, the PTI was trying to pressurise the ECP, the ECP sources added. “ECP did not get influenced by the previous government and will not be influenced by current government. Decision will be announced as per merit, all these tactics will not dissuade the commission from performing its functions in accordance with constitution and the law,” they added.
They believed the announcement of moving reference was nothing but to divert the attention by creating a smokescreen at a time when the Financial Times report became top trend on social media.
In a separate development, PTI leaders Asad Umar and Shaukat Tarin expressed serious concerns over the dwindling economic situation of the country.
Mr Umar said government’s incompetence and lack of interest were the main contributors to the country’s fast dwindling economy and Mr Tarin blasted the government for crushing the public under the unprecedented price hike of daily-use items.
Published in Dawn, July 31st, 2022