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ISLAMABAD: The federal ministers on Friday expressed displeasure over Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP’s) response to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s criticism over the election body in his address to the nation, saying that “ECP should have demonstrated its independence and impartiality through acts instead of issuing press releases”.

The federal government responded to the ECP’s press release through a press conference jointly addressed by federal ministers including Minister for Informaiton and Broadcasting Shibli Faraz and Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry and Barrister Ali Zafar.

Fawad Chaudhry said the PTI and the prime minister “immensely” respect all of Pakistan’s institutions, including the ECP. However, he added that “institutions show their neutrality and freedom through their actions, not press releases.”

He said that it was inappropriate for the ECP to issue a press release on the premier’s address, adding that the premier had said nothing wrong when he had held the ECP responsible for the failure to ensure transparency in the Senate elections.

He said that the ECP did not fulfill its responsibility to ensure transparency in the elections the way it should have been and horse-trading could not be prevented.

“Now, there’s no need to be upset about it,” he told the ECP. “You should be a little ashamed over it and there is a need to take preventive measures,” he added, while clarifying that the premier had said that the government and the ECP must work together towards this goal. “It is important to devise a mechanism that can prevent rigging and ensure free and fair elections,” he said.

Fawad Chaudhry said he had already offered to extend the cooperation of his ministry to the ECP and the chief election commissioner in devising certain mechanisms such as traceable ballot papers.

“No one wants to see the ECP stronger, more than us. I want to make the chief election commissioner and the ECP members believe that we want to see you and your character very strong,” he added.

He said that he was "surprised" that the ECP had asked any aggrieved parties to come forward with evidence “when numerous evidences were already present from videos to PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz's speech saying, "our (PML-N) ticket has been sold.”

About the National Assembly session on Saturday, he said the government didn't have any legal need for a vote of confidence but “it is Prime Minister Imran Khan who makes these kinds of brave decisions”. He said it would have been a more difficult task for the opposition to bring their no-confidence motion, instead, the PTI had raised our bar by going forward by seeking a fresh vote of confidence.

Shibli Faraz also criticized the opposition and said that Yousuf Raza Gilani should have resigned from his candidacy the next day after a video of his son, surfaced in which he is seen explaining to lawmakers how to cancel their votes.

Meanwhile talking to media persons after the parliamentary party meeting of the PTI, Shibli said the members and allies of the government fully supported the prime minister.

“I saw a new energy in all of the members who clapped a lot on every point of the prime minister. So we understand that all of our members were very energised on fulfilling the responsibility that Imran Khan has given to them,” he added. He said that only two or three members had not attended the meeting, who had called and communicated their reasons for not doing so.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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