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ISLAMABAD: Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Tuesday rejected as inadmissible a petition moved by Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) stalwart Nayyar Hussain Bukhari against Prime Minister Imran Khan for allegedly issuing ‘mega development funds’ to female MNAs before Senate elections.

A three-member bench led by member ECP (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) former Justice Irshad Qaiser heard Bukahri’s petition filed through his counsel.

During the hearing, Bukahri’s counsel took the stance that PM released mega development funds for female MNAs in order to bribe them before Senate polls. This amounts to pre-poll rigging and falls in the category of corrupt practices, he contended.

The ECP observed that the Code of Conduct related to Senate elections issued by the Commission before the polls barred the president and provincial governors from taking part in Senate election campaign and it was not applicable on the PM.

The Commission then dismissed as inadmissible the petition.

It merits a mention here that 342-seat National Assembly elects senators on two seats of Islamabad.

Eyebrows were raised when Yousuf Raza Gillani, the joint candidate of opposition’s Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), defeated Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on Islamabad’s general seat in March 3 Senate election.

Gillani secured 169 votes while Shaikh got 164 votes and seven votes were rejected out of total 340 votes cast. PTI-led ruling coalition has 180 seats compared to 160 seats of opposition in 342-seat National Assembly.

However, in chairman Senate election held on March 12, government candidate Sadiq Sanjrani defeated Gillani. Sanjrani grabbed 48 votes compared to Gillani’s 42 votes. Eight votes were rejected out of total 98 votes that were cast in 100-seat Senate whose present strength is 99.

After Shaikh’s defeat on March 3, PM Khan slammed ECP for its alleged inability to stop horse-trading in Senate polls.

And after Gillani’s March 12 defeat, the opposition accused the PM and his government of foul play in chairman Senate election, and announced to move superior judiciary against “unprecedented rigging in the election of chairman Senate.”

On Monday, Federal Ministers Shafqat Mahmood, Fawad Chaudhry and Shibli Faraz once again slammed the ECP accusing it of failing to take action against horse-trading in Senate polls while demanding the resignations of Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja and all the four ECP members; former Justice Altaf Ibrahim Qureshi (Punjab), former Justice Irshad Qaiser (KP), Shah Muhammad Jatoi (Sindh) and Nisar Ahmed Durrani (Balochistan).

Meanwhile, ECP’s scrutiny committee met on Tuesday and heard foreign funding case. The committee reviewed the allegations levelled by Akbar Sher Babar, the petitioner— that PTI kept its 23 bank accounts ‘secret’ to hide foreign funding. The committee adjourned the case hearing till March 22.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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