ECP rejects govt's allegations, demands evidence from Swati over bribery claimsPakistan
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday rejected the allegations levelled against it by government ministers over the last week, while demanding the ministers to produce evidence to back their claims.
Railways Minister Azam Khan Swati had lashed out at the institution on Friday during a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs, accusing it of taking bribes to rig polls and saying that such institutions should be “set on fire”.
He doubled down on his claims later in the day in a press conference with Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, who termed the ECP a "mouthpiece for the opposition".
In wake of the blistering criticism, opposition figures from across the board had come to the ECP's defence and hit back at the government.
PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz had said that her party had only ever highlighted negative characters within institutions.
"But the government is threatening to set a whole institution on fire and there is no one to [hold them] accountable,” she said.
PPP Senator Sherry Rehman had called out Swati's "seriously inappropriate behaviour".
“If it does not bend to their will, to say a constitutional institution should be burnt down is like saying let’s just dispense with all democratic norms and get on with our model of one-party authoritarianism. Rig the system for us or trash it,” she had said.
Meanwhile, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had called upon the ECP to stand firm on its stance about electronic voting machines.
Addressing a workers’ convention in Karor Lal Esen, Layyah district, on Saturday, he had said: “Since [Prime Minister] Imran Khan wants to steal the vote once again, his ministers are attacking the ECP. But I want to tell the ECP that the people of Pakistan are with it. It should remain firm on its just stand. The people will never forgive you if you let the PTI rig the vote."
In a press release issued today after a meeting presided over by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja and attended by senior ECP officials, the institution said it "objected to and rejected" the accusations against itself and the CEC.
The press release said evidence would be demanded from Swati for the comments he made about the ECP in the standing committee meeting.
Regarding the comments in the press conference, it said "the election commission has decided to issue notices to both ministers so further proceedings can be brought into effect regarding this matter."
It added that the ECP has also sought the record from the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority as well as all material regarding the standing committee incident and the press conference to be presented before it.