ISLAMABAD: Faced with massive criticism from the former ruling party the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), over alleged inaction against the dissident party lawmakers, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday sought written replies from 20 dissident PTI MNAs in the defection references against them.
One dissident lawmaker, Noor Alam Khan, challenged the ECP’s authority to hear the case.
His counsel took the plea that the ECP’s formation was not complete as its present strength was three out of five.
A three-member bench headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja and comprising Nisar Ahmed Durrani and Shah Muhammad Jatoi reserved verdict on the objection, likely to be announced in the next hearing.
In the proceedings, Noor Alam Khan’s counsel argued that Alam did not cast his vote in the no-confidence motion against the then prime minister Imran Khan, and, therefore, Article 63-A was not applicable on him.
In addition, he said, neither Alam quit PTI nor did he join any other party.
The PTI’s counsel, Faisal Chaudhry, argued that it was “irresponsible” on part of the Parliament that the ECP’s formation was incomplete. “It is not the fault of the ECP if it remains incomplete,” he added. He said the ECP has complete authority to hear this case under Article 218 of the Constitution and the electoral body was bound to decide this case within 30 days under Article 63-A.
The 20 MNAs against whom the PTI has filed references are: Noor Alam Khan, Dr Mohammad Afzal Khan Dhandla, Nawab Sher Waseer, Raja Riaz Ahmad, Ahmed Hussain Dehar, Rana Mohammad Qasim Noon, Asim Nazeer, Amjad Farooq Khosa, Aamir Liaquat Hussain, Chaudhry Farrukh Altaf, Syed Mobeen Ahmed, Sayed Sami-ul-Hassan Gillani, Mohammad Abdul Ghaffar Wattoo, Sayed Basit Ahmad Sultan, Aamir Talal Gopang, Sardar Riaz Mehmood Khan Mazari, Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, Wajiha Qamar, Nuzhat Pathan, and Javeria Zafar
The commission adjourned the case hearing till May 6, which coincides with the hearing of the case against the PTI’s 26 MPAs from the Punjab Assembly.
In a related development that is likely to further escalate the hostility between the electoral body and former ruling party, the ECP has written a letter to the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), seeking record of the statements made by the PTI chief Imran Khan regarding the ECP and the CEC in Peshawar on Tuesday.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022