ISLAMABAD: Accusing the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) of acting like a “political wing” of the PML-N, the PTI on Wednesday announced to challenge the ECP’s verdict on references against its 20 dissident MNAs in the Supreme Court besides, filing a reference against the Chief Election Commissioner and a member from Sindh.
Speaking at a presser shortly after the ECP rejected references against de-seating of 20 dissident PTI MNAs, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) senior leader, Fawad Chaudhry, said that this was very much expected as the CEC’s decision is “madness”.
“We’ll go to the Supreme Court against the ECP’s verdict and will also send a reference against the Chief Election Commissioner [CEC] Sikander Sultan Raja to the Supreme Judicial Council [SJC] and the ECP member from Sindh, Nisar Durrani,” he added.
He censured the ECP for its decision, saying all the PTI dissidents could be seen displaying the pictures of Nawaz Sharif – the PML-N supremo – but the ECP says the turncoats are still PTI members which is appalling.
“We’ve already launched mass mobilization against these injustices and will show these people by staging a comeback with the power of the masses,” he added.
Chaudhry said Pakistan’s biggest political party – the PTI – had lost trust in the CEC Raja, adding “the biggest reason behind the political crisis which Pakistan is facing today is the ECP being dysfunctional as an institution.”
In an obvious reference to the all-powerful military establishment which is believed to be behind the appointment of CEC Raja, he said it was the responsibility of the institutions to maintain a balance in the country but they had miserably failed in doing so as appointments in them were not based on merit.
He said PTI chief Imran Khan had suggested that the “CEC Raja may take up a position in the PML-N”, implying that Raja had been biased against the PTI and favoured the PML-N.
“When the country’s biggest leadership, the biggest party loses trust in you, the honourable option is to call it a day so that a new person is appointed in your place. But unfortunately, what happened was contrary to this,” he regretted.
He also said the ECP was incomplete as it lacked members from Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and as a result, was not representing around 70 percent population of Pakistan. In such a scenario, Chaudhry continued, the way forward for the PTI was to continue its political struggle alongside starting a legal struggle.
Therefore, he said, the party planned to file a reference against the CEC in the SJC as no CEC would run his office the way that CEC was running his office. Chaudhry said Faisal Vawda, who himself had been a victim of the ECP’s cruelty, had decided to file a reference against the electoral watchdog’s member from Sindh, Durrani.
He also berated the incumbent government for daring to snatch the right of voting from overseas Pakistanis, adding a conspiracy was hatched to deprive nine million overseas Pakistanis of this right, and “we staunchly reject it.”
Expressing dismay over the economy’s dismal condition, Chaudhry highlighted that the value of the US dollar had risen to Rs190 and the stock market had been witnessing a declining trend.
“Pakistan’s economy has been destroyed, and it is feared that it may end up like Sri Lanka’s economy. This is the confidence that this “crime minister” [Shehbaz Sharif] and his cabinet has given,” he added.
He specifically criticised Finance Minister Miftah Ismail over his economic policies and Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah for trying to run the government through threats.
“FIA [the Federal Investigation Agency] personnel are sent to the houses of journalists, political opponents and anchorpersons at 2am,” he added.
He further berated the government for removing the names of its ministers from the no-fly list and changing the prosecution teams of cases in which they were accused.
Chaudhry further criticised PM Shehbaz over his trip to Saudi Arabia, claiming that the prime minister was accompanied by 84 of his family members.
“All the expenses of the PM House that Imran Khan had managed to save, they spent it in one trip,” he said, adding there was anger among the public against the incumbent government.
Referring to a PML-N delegation — which is currently in London and comprises the prime minister and senior cabinet members — meeting party supremo Nawaz Sharif, Chaudhry said the development proved that Pakistan’s political system had been held hostage in London.
He also lashed out at Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan, saying that its criminal element, which was associated with MQM supreme Altaf Hussain and against whom the security forces had sacrificed their lives, was being brought to power again.
He stressed that if elections were not announced before May 20, a worse situation than Sri Lanka could develop since Pakistan’s population was far more than its fellow South Asian country.
In a separate press conference, senior PTI leader Shafqat Mehmood said the ECP’s decision was nothing but “an assault on democracy”. “Today’s decision was an attack on the very spirit of Constitution and democracy. The ECP which is supposed to safeguard elections is paving the way for horse trading in the country,” he lamented.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022