In statement issued after premier’s tirade in nationally televised address, commission says it cannot ignore law to please anyone
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Friday responded to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s criticisms of its conduct in the Senate polls by emphasizing that it has “never come under any pressure and, God willing, will not do so in future either.”
In a statement issued after a meeting of senior officials of the ECP, it stressed that the elections for the Upper House of Parliament were conducted in accordance with law and the Constitution, adding that the law could not be ignored or violated to please anyone.
Expressing disappointment over the criticisms levelled against it by the prime minister, as well as various federal ministers, the ECP said that it “rejects” the narrative being developed in the media. “This is the beauty of democracy and independent elections and the secret ballot, which the entire nation witnessed, which was according to the Constitution,” it said of Pakistan Democratic Movement candidate Yousaf Raza Gilani’s victory over the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Abdul Hafeez Shaikh
Noting that it had listened to the concerns of all stakeholders on election-related issues, the commission said it had conducted a detailed review of all recommendations ahead of the Senate polls. “The Election Commission hears everyone but fulfills its responsibilities in accordance with the law and Constitution and takes decisions independently, not under any sort of pressure,” it said.
Echoing a statement earlier voiced by the ruling party—when it questioned the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz)’s allegations of riggings in the Daska by-elections—the ECP noted that critical voices only seemed to have an issue with the conduct of one Senate seat they had lost, while had no concerns with the seats they had won. “Is this not an open case of contradiction?” read the statement.
The ECP urged all critics to bring forth evidence of any malfeasance before accusing it of any wrongdoing. “Let us carry on with our work; don’t mudsling against national institutions,” it added.
The statement also noted that the ECP was not a legislative body and its function was to uphold the law. “If the constitutional institutions continue to be ridiculed in this way, it is tantamount to their [government] weakness and not that of the ECP,” it added.
The statement was issued after a meeting of senior officials of the ECP, which was convened to review Prime Minister Imran Khan’s speech in which he had accused the commission of “protecting” criminals through secret ballot and “damaging” democracy. He had alleged that by allowing the secret ballot, the ECP had facilitated the buying and selling of votes.
Several federal ministers had also accused the ECP of ignoring “evidence” of electoral rigging, adding that it needed to investigate a leaked video of Haider Gilani teaching PTI lawmakers to “waste” their votes.