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ISLAMABAD: What appears to be an embarrassment to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the federal government has declined the commissions’ directives to produce Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and former prime minister Imran Khan before the poll body in the contempt case—instead— the government has proposed that the ECP hold proceedings of this case in Adiala Jail.

“The real contempt of the ECP has been committed today,” remarked Khan’s lawyer Advocate Shoaib Shaheen soon after a senior official from Punjab Police appeared before the four-member ECP bench, hearing contempt proceedings, on Tuesday, to inform that Khan could not be presented before the bench on account of “serious life threats” he was faced with.

The official also submitted a report from the Interior Ministry which recommended to the ECP to hold the proceedings of the contempt case in Adiala Jail Rawalpindi.

“They are citing lame excuses and using delaying tactics to not let Imran Khan appear before this bench,” Shaheen, the defence lawyer, added.

The ECP bench, comprising Nisar Ahmed Durrani, Shah Mohammad Jatoi, Babar Hassan Bharwana and former Justice Ikramullah Khan, took the Interior Ministry’s report as an affront to the ECP.

“How can the Interior Ministry dictate us what to do and what not to,” Durrani remarked.

“The Interior Ministry cannot ensure the provision of foolproof security to one person. How will they provide security for general elections?” he deplored.

The bench than summoned Secretary Interior Dr Aftab Akbar Durrani on November 13 over his ministry’s failure to present the former PM before the commission in the contempt case, and adjourned the case till the aforementioned date.

On Thursday, last week, the ECP issued two production orders of the PTI chief for framing charges against him in the contempt case, over contempt of the ECP and chief election commissioner, on October 24.

“Since the respondent is in jail, as stated by the learned counsel, and his personal appearance is mandatory to proceed further with the matter. In such view of the matter, there is no alternate except to issue production order of respondent namely Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi,” read two identical orders, of three pages each, dated October 11, issued by the ECP bench.

The bench, in these orders, directed its secretariat to convey directions to superintendent Adiala Jail Rawalpindi to make all necessary arrangements for producing chairman PTI before ECP. It also directed inspector general police Islamabad and IGP Punjab to ensure foolproof security arrangements related to Khan’s appearance.

Meanwhile, PTI leader Asad Umar and former PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry appeared in person before the commission in the contempt case on Tuesday – before the case was adjourned till November 13.

In August, last year, the ECP issued contempt notices to Khan, Umar and Chaudhry, for their public criticism of the ECP and CEC Sikandar Sultan Raja. The matter is since pending with the poll body.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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