ECP 'strongly rejects' allegations levelled by 'political figure' amid audio leaks fiasco

Published September 27, 2022
<p>A combination photo of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairperson Imran Khan (L) and Chief Election Commissioner ikander Sultan Raja (R). — Photo courtesy Twitter/DawnNewsTV</p>

A combination photo of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairperson Imran Khan (L) and Chief Election Commissioner ikander Sultan Raja (R). — Photo courtesy Twitter/DawnNewsTV

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday strongly rejected "irresponsible and baseless allegations" leveled by a "political figure", saying the ECP will keep taking decisions under the law and the Constitution in fulfilment of its lawful obligations.

The statement from the ECP comes a day after former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan targeted Chief Election Commissioner Sikander Sultan Raja, demanding his resignation following the surfacing of audio leaks allegedly featuring conversations between key figures in the coalition government.

Imran had said the audio leaks had made it apparent that CEC Raja was a "servant of the Sharif household".

In the audio leaks, "Nawaz is telling him [CEC] who should be disqualified and when to hold elections," the former premier said.

After the audio leaks, the CEC should resign if he has even an ounce of shame, he said. "But he doesn't [have any shame], so we will have to make him resign."

However, in a statement today, the ECP responded to the criticism without naming Imran, saying it had no control over holding elections.

"Elections can be held in only two circumstances. First, either the assemblies complete their term or the prime minister dissolves the assemblies," it explained while insisting that neither of the possibilities was in sight at the moment.

However, it added that the ECP had a major responsibility of ensuring transparency in elections which it said will ensure whenever polls were held.

Audio recordings of purported conversations between key government figures — including Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz and some members of the federal cabinet — discussing governance matters privately surfaced over the weekend, prompting concerns over the security of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).

PML-N leader Talal Chaudhry had on Sunday said the government was taking the leaks "very seriously", however, he stopped short of denying the veracity of the audios.

The content of the recordings, which appear to be informal conversations in the PM Office — as opposed to recorded phone conversations — has not been denied or disputed by Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, who instead insisted that these only showed that “nothing illegal had happened”.

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