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ISLAMABAD: In an unprecedented move, the members of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) visited Adiala Jail Rawalpindi on Wednesday to hold contempt trial of former prime minister Imran Khan and ex-Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Fawad Chaudhry—a move strongly contested by the former ruling party.

Nisar Ahmed Durrani, Shah Muhammad Jatoi, Babar Hassan Bharwana and former Justice Ikramullah Khan form the four-member ECP bench to have visited the jail to hold the contempt proceedings.

In the case hearing, Chairman PTI and defence lawyer Barrister Gohar Ali Khan questioned the ECP’s authority to hold the proceedings of the case in the jail. He told the bench that the matter was pending with the Lahore High Court (LHC) that constituted a bench to hear the former PM’s petition against trial in the jail, and that the date of hearing of this case was December 18.

The ECP bench adjourned the case till December 19.

Speaking to the media outside Adiala Jail, the chairman PTI lambasted the ECP for holding jail trial. “ECP has no authority to visit jails for holding trials,” he deplored.

Gohar Khan said the ECP was legally bound to allot election symbol of bat to the PTI after intra-party elections within the stipulated seven-day period. “Today, 10 days have gone past—the ECP continues to flout the law,” he lamented.

“Our greatest concern at the moment is that a plan is in place to deprive the PTI of its electoral symbol,” the newly elected party chief stated.

He said a conspiracy had been hatched to isolate PTI, demanding that the political party be given level playing field in the context of upcoming general elections.

Addressing the journalists, another defence lawyer Intazar Hussain Panjutha remarked, “Today, Adiala Jail has earned the honour of having been graced with the distinguished presence of the ECP members.”

Separately, Hiba Fawad, the wife of Fawad Chaudhry, told the journalists outside Adiala Jail that she would take to court her husband’s brother Faisal Chaudhry, who is also Fawad’s counsel in the contempt case, over his “attitude”.

On December 6, in a move that raised eyebrows, the ECP decided to hold the contempt trial of Khan and Chaudhry in Adiala Jail Rawalpindi, instead of ECP headquarters, after the caretaker federal government declined to accept the poll body’s order to bring Khan to the ECP in the contempt case, citing security reasons.

Different public and political circles have taken on the electoral body and the caretaker government for their inability in ensuring foolproof security to the former PM for his trial at the ECP headquarters instead of jail.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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