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2013 polls did not reflect true will of people: PTI

2013 polls did not reflect true will of people: PTI

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) claimed before the poll inquiry commission on Monday that it had discharged its burden by providing documents and evidence to prove that the 2013 general elections did not reflect the true will of the people and were thus doubtful.

“We have produced the ocular testimony, documents, articles of newspapers, compact discs (CD) and now the identification of the material and evidence was the responsibility of the commission,” PTI’s counsel Abdul Hafeez Pirzada argued before the three-judge commission after the closing of the recording of testimonies of witnesses.

At the same time, the PTI accused the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) of suppressing the record, material and documents when it should have provided these on the first day of investigation by the inquiry commission.

Mr Pirzada alleged that the ECP had taken every step to resist the production of material before the commission. The ECP was duty-bound to do it, but utterly failed to discharge its duty as a result of which the entire burden had now shifted on it, the counsel said, adding that the ECP remained non-cooperative and did not produce the documents which the PTI intended to present as evidence before the inquiry commission.

Referring to the role of the armed forces in the conduct of the 2013 elections as cited by a number of witnesses during their testimonies, Mr Pirzada said their role was only to provide security to the people engaged in the elections. The armed forces were not supposed to sign inventories and had nothing to do with the making of invoices or the audit of ballot papers printed for different constituencies, he said, adding that the printing and accounting of ballot papers were the sole responsibility of the ECP.

Mr Pirzada said the inquiry commission was empowered to give its findings on the conduct of the 2013 elections, adding that it was not that the previous elections were not flawed but two wrongs did not make one right.

“The scope of the commission is wider than Article 218 of the Constitution to prove whether efforts and design were made for systematic rigging in the elections,” he argued. He said the circumstantial evidence that led to the constitution of the commission against the background of the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the PTI and the PML-N after 12 sittings also needed to be looked at by the commission.

The counsel said the ECP had left Form-15 in the possession of returning officers (ROs), adding that despite the commission’s decision to call for the Form-15 by order to open the sealed election bags, the Forms-15 were materially not available before the commission; rather these fell short of despite efforts that too without giving any explanation to it. Even five to 10 per cent of the forms were found to be defective, incomplete or missing, the counsel said.

The ECP’s stand that instead of Form-15, Form-14 could also be relied upon was a devastating admission of its failure, especially when the PTI never asked for the Form-14, he said and asked why the ECP took so long to collect Forms-15 from different polling stations.

Mr Pirzada was also critical of the way the elections were held in Balochistan and said that despite registration of 3.5 million votes, only one million votes were polled. Chief Minister Dr Abdul Malik Baloch had secured only 5,000 votes in the elections.

“If the chief minister is getting this much votes then God help us,” he said, adding that it was not the exercise of free will by the people. The entire election process and polling in Balochistan were marred by broken seals of election bags, casting of zero per cent vote and missing Forms-15, he said.

PML-N’S SKELETAL ARGUMENTS: Meanwhile, the PML-N, in its written arguments before the commission, said the PTI, PPPP and PML-Q had completely failed to explain or suggest any reason whatsoever why the ECP, DROs and ROs conspired to manipulate the 2013 elections against them and in favour of the PML-N.

“What possible motivation could they have? The attendant questions as to who precisely were the masterminds, and where and when the conspiracy was hatched and what was the mechanism employed whereby the PML-N secured 14.874 million votes, more than the PTI and PPPP put together, have also not been answered,” it said.

Were the ballot boxes stuffed at the 40,000 polling stations in Punjab by an equivalent number of presiding officers or did the ROs of 148 constituencies of the National Assembly and 297 of the provincial assemblies sit secretly in their offices on election night with their AROs and other staff and, apart from commission of several other attendant illegal acts, substitute the actual Forms-14 with fake ones and thereby produce fake forms, the PML-N wondered.

It said there was no effort, no design, systematic or otherwise, by anyone to manipulate or influence the last elections. The evidence on record does not disclose any dishonesty or partiality of any person involved in the organisation and conduct of the elections. The evidence on record also does not show that any such person was unfair or unjust.

On May 11, 2013, it said, the electorate voted in record numbers for parties and candidates of their choice. The turnout was 55.02pc of the registered vote.

“The mandate given by the people on May 11 has been confirmed by the results of subsequent by-elections whether caused by deaths, resignations or the very few accepted election petitions. The notified results of the 2013 elections are undoubtedly, on an overall basis, a fair and true reflection of the mandate given by the electorate,” the PML-N said.

Published in Dawn, June 30th, 2015

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