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ISLAMABAD: Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Friday rejected the criticism from Prime Minister Imran Khan and his cabinet members regarding “foul play” on Senate’s general seat from Islamabad and asked them to “refrain from mudslinging on national institutions.”

“ECP rejects the comments and criticism related to results of one particular seat. This is the beauty of democracy; independent elections and secret ballot witnessed by the entire nation,” the ECP said in a statement following a top-level meeting chaired by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja and attended by Secretary ECP Dr Akhtar Nazir and other senior officials.

“It is surprising that under the same staff in the same electoral under the same roof on the same day, (what they won) is acceptable and (what they lost) is unacceptable. Is this not open contradiction? And the (Senate election) results from all the provinces are acceptable (to government),” the ECP said in implied reference to the victory of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) candidate on women’s seat from Islamabad Fouzia Arshad and defeat of Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on general seat.

“Every political party and person should have the courage to admit defeat. If we can hear your suggestions, why can’t we entertain your complaints? So, let us work. Don’t engage in mudslinging on national institutions. Have some sense,” the statement said.

The ECP said that it was “hurt” by the remarks of the prime minister and some federal ministers regarding Senate election on Islamabad’s general seat.

“We cannot ignore or amend the Constitution and law to the pleasure of anyone…if anyone has any objection against our decisions/orders, he/she should adopt constitutional path as we have neither bow down before anyone nor will we come under anyone’s pressure,” the ECP said.

In his hard-hitting address to the nation televised live on Thursday, the PM lashed out at ECP in the backdrop of alleged foul play on Senate’s general seat from Islamabad in March 3 elections.

Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) candidate Yousuf Raza Gilani handed an unexpected defeat to Finance Minister Shaikh despite Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led ruling coalition has majority in National Assembly which was going to elect the senators on two Islamabad seats.

A night before the Senate elections, a video of Gilani’s son was widely circulated in which he was purportedly buying votes in favour of his father.

The PM questioned the ECP why it had not printed barcode on 1,500 ballot papers to ensure fair polls. “You [ECP] have harmed the morality of country…this country was to become an example for others. What message you [ECP] have given to our youth that how much money was used in the election and how our politics has been corrupted,” he remarked. He said the ECP could have conducted fair elections as it had all the required resources to do so. “All government institutions and agencies were under your [ECP] command, but despite this the whole drama happened in the polls and a corrupt ex-prime minister [Yousuf Raza Gilani] won Senate seat from Islamabad,” he said. In a presidential reference on open ballot in Senate elections, Supreme Court ordered ECP to use technology in Senate polls to ensure transparency but the ECP decided to use it in the “next elections” citing shortage of time.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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