ISLAMABAD: The PTI has called on the chief election commissioner to resign and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to be disbanded, as it holds the commission responsible for failing to hold the recently-held Senate elections in a transparent manner.
“It was a longstanding demand of the prime minister that the power of money should not be used to influence elections,” said Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood, flanked by information minister Shibli Faraz and Fawad Chaudhry. “For this purpose, the premier wanted the Senate elections to be held via an open ballot.”
Mehmood said it is the sole responsibility of the ECP to ensure transparent polls are held. He said that the government had told the ECP to implement a system wherein it would not be possible for corrupt practices to take place.
The minister called on the election commission to be disbanded, alleging that it had failed to meet up to the standards required of it.
“To ensure transparent elections are held is the responsibility of the election commission. This responsibility was not fulfilled,” he said. “The election commission failed to act as a neutral umpire hence it should resign,” added Mehmood.
Explaining the government’s demand for the ECP to be disbanded, Mehmood said the PTI was the most popular political party in the country yet it did not have confidence in the ECP. He claimed the ruling party was not the only one which didn’t trust the ECP.
“If you ask other parties, even they don’t have confidence in the ECP,” he said. “The ECP should collectively resign and a new commission should be made which enjoys the trust of all parties.”
Mehmood said no political party in Pakistan is happy with the results of the Senate elections, adding that whatever transpired during the recently-held polls is a result of the ECP’s ‘failure’.
“The chief election commissioner and his members [of the ECP] should resign,” added the minister.
The education minister criticised the attack on Dr Shahbaz Gill, alleging the PML-N of having a hand in it.
“A disappointing incident took place today in which shoes and ink were thrown at Shahbaz Gill,” he said. “We condemn this attack on Gill.”
He said that when matters go according to the wishes of the PML-N, then everything is fine. However, when it goes against them, then the party decides to attack, said the minister.
“The PML-N was responsible for the attack on the Supreme Court in the past,” he said. “When the prime minister was seeking a vote of confidence, their leaders arrived [outside the parliament] to instigate a fight,” added Mehmood.
He said the PML-N should reflect on its decisions and actions, which were taking politics towards confrontation and violence.
Tensions between the government and the ECP after the PTI lost the important Senate election when former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani defeated Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh.
In his address to the nation following the election, PM Imran Khan lashed out at the ECP and accused it of allowing horse-trading to take place.
The commission had hit back at the government a day later, saying that it has “never come under any sort of pressure and God willing, will not in future as well”.
“We cannot ignore the law and the Constitution to please anyone,” the ECP had said.
Referring to former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s victory over Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, the ECP had said it ‘rejects’ the analysis and criticism that is being levelled over one result of the Senate elections.
“This is the beauty of democracy and independent elections and the secret ballot which the entire nation witnessed, which was according to the Constitution,” it had said.
The ECP had said that it had heard all delegations that had called on it to discuss election-related matters and conducted a detailed review of their concerns and recommendations ahead of the Senate polls.
“The election commission hears everyone but fulfills its responsibilities in accordance with the law and Constitution and takes decisions independently, not under any sort of pressure,” the statement had read.