ECP has full powers to punish for contempt
Political horse-trading is not a new phenomenon in Pakistani politics since 1956. Starting with the abduction of independent lawmakers by the then Pakistan Muslim League back in 1988 to deny the PPP a chance to muster its majority in the provincial assembly and get its own candidate elected as Chief Minister, almost every major political party, including the PTI has mastered the art with generous help from the intelligence apparatus.
On the other hand, a day after PTI’s resounding victory in the bye elections held in 20 constituencies of Punjab, Imran khan demanded snap polls to end the political turmoil in the country, while also calling for the resignation of Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, saying that the biggest party of Pakistan does not trust the head of the constitutional body.
Imran Khan continued to attack Chief Election Commissioner. Indeed, given the results everyone argue that the elections seemed quite free and fair and barring a few incidents of violence, generally well conducted.
Therefore, one would have expected the PTI to be a little more appreciative of the fact that it was ensured a level playing field and that its worst fears never materialized.
Yet, Imran Khan seemed unwilling to let go of his distrust of the Chief Election Commissioner.
The continuing acrimony does not make sense, considering that the latter seems more focused on quietly going about his constitutional duties and doesn’t seem to be swayed by the relentless campaign against him.
Because of the imbalance of power, Imran Khan’s constant criticism has now started to look like bulling to some observers.
They believe that Imran Khan has been constantly attacking and under mining the Chief Election Commissioner to pressurize him over the pending decision in the foreign funding case against PTI.
To some extent it seems true as I have been informed that some trustworthy high profile friends of Mr. Imran Khan met Chief Election Commissioner of Pakistan at Lahore and requested him that Imran Khan wanted to meet him on one to one but CEC on their request asked them he can meet him at ECP’s Secretariat along with the members of ECP, so in the circumstances Mr.Imran Khan needs to be more direct about why he does not trust CEC.
Imran Khan must provide sufficient evidence to substantiate his allegations against CEC, If Imran Khan wants the CEC gone then there is a political process involved.
As per section 10 of Election Act 2017, the Commission may exercise the same power as the High Court to punish any person for the contempt of court and the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003, or any other law pertaining to contempt of court shall have effect accordingly as if reference therein to a court and a judge where a reference, respectively, to the Commission and the Commissioner or, as the case be, a member of the Commission.
It is further added for general information that as per section 232, if the Commission is of the view that circumstances so warrant and makes an order to that effect, be disqualified for such period not extending five years as may be specified in the order from being, or being elected as a Member of an Assembly, the Senate or a local government.
Elections are the only way out of the political stablemate but Imran Khan’s dictatorial approach remains a major obstacle in the way of any democratic political solution.
What is most alarming is the fact that the political instability is now facing a real threat of defaulting on its foreign loans repayments.
It is an extremely gloomy situation. Polarization lurks behind many of the political crises that define the current global moment.
When political parties and their partisans disdain and disagree with each other, the discord can preclude effective governance and incite violence in the streets.
—The writer is former Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan and currently Chairman National Democratic Foundation.