Pakistan News

Imran accepts poll inquiry report with reservations

Imran accepts poll inquiry report with reservations

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan said on Saturday that he had accepted the decision of the inquiry commission formed to probe the charges of rigging in the 2013 general elections, but at the same time insisted that the judges had not used their powers to dig out facts and left the matter “unfinished”.

Giving his official reaction at a press conference at his Bani Gala residence to the report of the three-judge commission released on Thursday, Imran Khan called for resignation of members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

“The report has highlighted shortcomings and failure of the ECP to hold the elections in a transparent manner,” he said, adding that the ECP officials who had conducted the polls had no moral ground to stay in their offices.

They should have resigned when all political parties had expressed no confidence in the ECP soon after the elections, he added.

“The commission should have gone further. It should have employed a special team to conduct investigations against the returning officers. Had it done so, my doubts about rigging would have been removed. Now the doubts have risen,” he said, referring to the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the PTI and the ruling PML-N.

Under the MoU, the commission had been awarded discretionary powers to form special teams comprising officials of intelligence agencies to probe the rigging charges.

That clause, Imran Khan said, had been inserted in the MoU on the PTI’s insistence.

“All questions are still there. All agencies were under you (inquiry commission). You could have taken another two or three weeks.”

Mr Khan said he now believed that the rigging committed exceeded what “we thought in the first place”. “However, since I have said we shall accept the commission’s decision, we are doing so.

“It (the commission) could have probed more...Those who were responsible (for rigging) are still not known,” he said.

Flanked by senior leaders of the PTI, Mr Khan said the commission had declared that the elections had “largely” been conducted in a fair way and in accordance with law, adding that the word “largely” had created confusion.

The commission should have categorically stated whether the elections had been conducted in accordance with the law or not, he said.

“How would you know what percentage of the elections were held in accordance with the law,” he wondered.

Imran Khan said it seemed that 65 per cent of the elections had been held in accordance with the law since Form-15 was found to be missing in 35pc of the constituencies.

Interestingly, the PTI chief showered praise on Chief Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk, the head of the commission. “I am proud of the way the chief justice conducted the proceedings. I didn’t know that such things could happen in Pakistan. No matter how much we praise him, he is worth more. He took notice of every issue minutely,” he said.

“The chief justice listened to every word, remembered every detail and went after every proof. I admire him for his alertness and grip on law.”

Imran Khan said it was because of the conduct of the chief justice that he had high expectations from the commission but at the end, he was disappointed and felt pain.

Quoting from the commission’s report, the PTI chief said the ECP had no coordination with the provincial election commissions and allowed them to act on their own.

He said the commission in its report had used the words “shortcomings” and “having no capacity” for the ECP.

He said the action plan prepared by the ECP had not been given any importance and the statements of returning officers showed that they had not been guided by any policy or instructions.

The inquiry report, he added, had pointed out that the election staff had not been properly trained and the “chain of command was ineffective”.

The PTI chairman said the result management system, for which the United Nations Development Programme had provided Rs400 million, had failed during the elections.

Similarly, he said, the report had pointed out that the National Database and Registration Authority and the ECP had failed to arrange special ink for use in the polls for verification of votes.

The PTI chief said the report had given a verdict against the ECP. He expressed the hope that the next elections would be held in accordance with the law and in the light of the commission’s findings.

LB EECTIONS: Imran Khan questioned the logic behind asking the same ECP to conduct the coming local bodies’ elections in Punjab and Sindh.

In reply to a question about the demand by some ministers for an apology from the PTI, Imran said that instead of asking him to apologise, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should tender an apology to the nation for wasting its time in the formation of the commission, which had declared in its decision that the PTI was not “unjustified” in seeking the establishment of a body to investigate its suspicions and allegations regarding the elections.

He said initially he had demanded scrutiny and audit of votes in only four constituencies, but the government did not pay heed to his demand. “I approached every forum, including the Supreme Court, to seek justice, but was forced to take to the streets after getting no response from anywhere.”

The PTI chief alleged that the then chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry had told him that he could not take up petitions on poll rigging as he had a backlog of 20,000 cases. He said it was the same chief justice who had taken suo motu actions on the recovery of two bottles of liquor and tomato prices.

He criticised those leaders who accused the PTI of staging a sit-in in Islamabad at the behest of generals. “Shame on those who talked about the “London plan” or said that generals were behind the PTI,” he said.

Replying to another question, Mr Khan said his party had no plan to resort to protest again. Instead, he would now focus his energies on Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and reorganising his party.

The PTI chairman said every Pakistani should read the report of the commission.

He said flaws and shortcomings of the election system would not have come before the nation, had the commission not formed. Because of his party’s struggle, he said, now even a layman knew about forms 14 and 15 used during the elections.

When contacted for comments on the findings of the commission and Imran Khan’s demand, a spokesman for the ECP said they were still reviewing the report and would come out with an official response after going through it. The ECP, he said, would take steps in accordance with the law and the constitution in the light of the inquiry report.

Published in Dawn, July 26th, 2015

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