Future of PTI is hidden in EC decision | By Kanwar M Dilshad

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Future of PTI is hidden in EC decision

ELECTIONS are an essential feature of democracy. There have been several recent examples where countries with strong democratic traditions have refused to postpone elections even during the Covid-19 pandemic.

But Pakistan is a different story; there are always certain forces, parties and individuals in this country that somehow try to disrupt the electoral process on one pretext or another.

Therefore, the decision taken by the Election Commission of Pakistan to reject the Federation and Sindh government’s requests to delay parliamentary by-polls scheduled for 16 October and the local government elections in Karachi and Hyderabad on October 23 was the right one.

The Federal and the Province had cited the security situation in the country, an unannounced PTI march on Islamabad, the non-availability of police and the flood devastation in Sindh to make case for further delay.

Although the ECP has postponed election on the National seat from Kurram due to security concerns, it has cleared the uncertainty surrounding the election in other areas.

Bye-elections of the National as well as Provincial Assembly seats were originally staggered between 11 September and 2 October but called off due to the non-availability of security personnel and the flood devastation in the country.

The local government elections were also deferred twice, depriving the citizens of Sindh’s 16 districts of an opportunity to elect their governments.

Even at that time, the ECP’s reasoning the unavailability of military and paramilitary personnel for security at the polling booths for postponing parliamentary bye elections just days before the contest lacked reasonable justification.

This was especially true in the case of the by-polls as the vote on 13 national and provincial constituencies was spread across the country and split into three rounds.

But with the worst hopefully behind us, there is no sense in the government arrangements to delay the democracy accountability of Pakistani political parties.

Following the ECP’s decision, the Federation and Sindh should better start making arrangements to ensure the security of voters and polling staff rather than seeking more excuses to further delay the elections.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan wants to see the Election Commission of Pakistan evolve into a powerful institution as the Chief Justice of Pakistan remarked to maintain the integrity and impartiality of the Election Commission of Pakistan.

Meanwhile, in a separate petition, the ECP asked the Supreme Court to consolidate and transfer all six challenges to its contempt notices against PTI leaders, including Mr. Imran Khan, before one high court.

Chief Justice of Pakistan uttered historical remarks that the Supreme Court does not like to see Election Commission of Pakistan decisions being overturned through writ petitions.

It’s worth mentioning that the ECP had served notices in August and September on Mr.Imran Khan and party leaders Asad Umar, Fawad Chaudhary, Mian Shabbir Ismail, Danial khalid and Khokhar and later asked them to appear before in person or through their counsels to explain their position.

They were served notices for using intemperate language against the Chief Election Commissioner of Pakistan and the ECP members.

However, the recipients challenged the notices in different high courts, including the Lahore High Court, its Rawalpindi Bench, the Sindh High Court, and the Islamabad High Court.

They argued that the Election Act 2017, Section 10, which is about ECP’s power to punish for contempt, is against the Constitution.

The Indian Government and the Supreme Court have given full protection to the Indian Election Commission.

The Chief Election Commissioner is equal and enjoys same powers. India has traditional parliamentary system and resilient democracy with strong democratic traditions.

Intra-party elections are regularly held under the orders of the Supreme Court. The political party elections are like parliamentary elections.

The Indian Election Commission has full control over the conduct of political parties. No party can violate electoral laws and code of conduct and rules and regulations of the Election Commission.

On the other hand in order to comply with the decision of ECP about foreign funding case, the Federal Investigation Agency has booked Mr.

Imran Khan and other PTI leaders for their involvement in connection with the prohibited funding case against the party for submitting false affidavit to the Election Commission of Pakistan under section 210 of Election Act 2017.

As per FIR registered a few days earlier by the Commercial Bank Circle in Islamabad, the Investigation Agency stated that PTI submitted an affidavit of Abraaj founder Arif Masood Naqvi before the Election Commission of Pakistan stating therein that all the amounts collected in the accounts of Wooten Cricket Limited, were submitted into PTI account in Pakistan.

The affidavit has been proved to be false or forged as two more transactions were also made from Wootton Cricket Ltd, to two different accounts, in Pakistan in May 2013.

The FIR lodged in Islamabad included sections 420, 468, 471, 477A and 109 read with section 5 and 23 of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act 1947.

—The writer is former Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan and currently Chairman National Democratic Foundation.

 

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