Mystery shrouds full Toshakhana verdict

Published October 23, 2022
<p>PTI’s Senior Vice President Chaudhry Fawad Hussain talks to reporters outside the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Secretariat on Saturday. — DawnNewsTV</p>

PTI’s Senior Vice President Chaudhry Fawad Hussain talks to reporters outside the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Secretariat on Saturday. — DawnNewsTV

ISLAMABAD: Mystery continues to surround the verdict announced by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Friday disqualifying Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan for making false declarations.

Announcing the verdict in the absence of ECP member from Punjab, Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja had called it a unanimous verdict. However, the full text of the 36-page order — an unsigned copy of which is available with Dawn — was not officially released till late evening on Saturday, raising questions whether it was really a unanimous decision and providing fodder to rumour mills to go into overdrive over the possibility of a dissenting note.

The ECP had on Friday issued just two pages of its order.

ECP Secretary Omar Hamid Khan, when contacted, rejected as baseless rumours of “some member being upset”.

Fawad questions delay in release of full text; ECP disowns detailed verdict circulating on social media

PTI’s Senior Vice President Chaudhry Fawad Hussain while talking to reporters outside the ECP secretariat wondered, “What the chief election commissioner (CEC) had read on Friday if there is no judgement to release despite the passage of over 24 hours”.

He pointed out that more than 24 hours had passed, yet the detailed order in the Toshakhana case was not being released though the PTI lawyers had applied for a copy on Friday evening.

He contended that if the order did not carry the signatures of all the ECP members, then there was a very clear law on the judgement, adding “if your members’ signatures were not on it, then it was not a judgement”.

He claimed that the CEC did the same while announcing its decision in the prohibited funding case. He alleged that additions had been made to the judgment after it had been uploaded on the ECP’s website.

He said any unconstitutional means used to remove Imran Khan from political arena would weaken the country. He contended that people had rejected the ECP’s order disqualifying Mr Khan.

The PTI leader alleged that with the connivance of some ministers, the ECP had selected constituencies for Oct 16 by-polls and yet the voters elected Imran Khan from majority of the constituencies.

“People gave their verdict in favour of Imran in Punjab by-elections as well. And, if there had been a bit of democracy, we would have moved towards general elections,” he noted.

Referring to the ECP’s verdict, he said an attempt was made to disqualify Imran Khan to align him with Nawaz Sharif but added that the rulers must have witnessed the rejection of the suspicious move as the masses held countrywide demonstrations against the decision.

Fawad Chaudhry claimed that changes were being made in the ECP verdict as things suiting to the government were being included in it.

“We are asked not to commit contempt and we don’t want to, but what should be done to such an election commission, when references are pending against chief election commissioner and two of its members and superior courts are not hearing them and we are asked to approach the same ECP for verdicts,” he said, adding sarcastically, “they can’t be garlanded [over their performance]”.

The PTI leader urged the chief justice of Pakistan to decide on these references.

“Either tell us that these could not be called references or convene the Supreme Judicial Council to decide these,” he remarked.

He pointed out that Toshakhana references against PPP leader Asif Zardari and PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif were pending for the last 10 years.

People will be left with no other option but to come out and remove these rulers to save the Constitution, he said.

Fawad Chaudhry said the plan to exclude Imran Khan from parliamentary politics through any minus-one formula would not work.

Another senior PTI leader criticised the election watchdog.

“Why is ECP holding onto the verdict. What is cooking up,” party Secretary General Asad Umar tweeted.

ECP’s stance

ECP Secretary Omar Hamid Khan rejected as baseless the rumours of some member being upset. Answering a question, the official told Dawn that he cannot authenticate the order doing rounds on social media. He said it was a normal practice that a short order is announced first to be followed by a detailed order.

A source in the ECP said the member Punjab was fully on board and remained actively involved in the process till Thursday.

He said the member was suffering from dengue.

The source, however, agreed that his [Punjab member’s] signatures could have been obtained by sending someone to his place. He said it might be a delaying tactic as the decision could be challenged only after a copy is available.

In a related development, ECP spokesman Haroon Shinwari disowned the detailed verdict ran by some TV channels and circulating on social media, saying the ECP had nothing to do with it.

“The ECP has not released [the] judgement in Toshakhana reference and detailed verdict will be released soon,” leaving many to wonder as to who had prematurely leaked it to whom and giving rise to speculations where it had been authored.

Published in Dawn, October 23rd, 2022


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