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Monday Mar 15 2021
Web Desk

Govt demands resignation from chief election commissioner, wants ECP reconstituted

Web Desk
(L to R) Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhry, Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood, and Information Minister Shibli Faraz address a press conference in Islamabad, on March 15, 2021. — A still taken from a YouTube video
  • ECP officials should collectively resign, says Shafqat Mehmood.
  • Govt says ECP failed to act as a "neutral umpire" in recently-held Senate elections.
  • PM Imran Khan wanted Senate elections to be held via open balloting, says Mehmood.

ISLAMABAD: The government has asked the chief election commissioner to resign and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to be reconstituted as it holds the Commission responsible for failing to hold the recently-held Senate elections in a transparent manner.

"It was a longstanding demand of the prime minister that the power of money should not be used to influence elections," Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood, flanked by Information Minister Shibli Faraz and Fawad Chaudhry, said in Monday press conference. 

"For this purpose, the premier wanted the Senate elections to be held via an open ballot."

Read more: PM Imran Khan vows to never let the corrupt off the hook, whether in power or not

Mehmood said it is the sole responsibility of the ECP to ensure that transparent polls are held. He said that the government had told the ECP to implement a system wherein it would not be possible for corrupt practices to take place.

Mehmood said the ECP instead failed to uphold its mandate and deliver on its responsibility.

The minister thereafter called on the Election Commission to be reconstituted, alleging that it had failed to meet the standards required of it. 

"To ensure transparent elections are held is the responsibility of the Election Commission. This responsibility was not fulfilled," he said. 

"The Election Commission failed to act as a neutral umpire, hence [its officials] should resign," added Mehmood.

Mehmood said the PTI was the largest political party in the country and it did not have confidence in the ECP. 

"If you ask other parties, even they don't have confidence in the ECP after the recently held elections," he said. 

"The ECP's officials should therefore collectively resign and a new commission should be formed which enjoys the trust of all parties."

Read more: Govt summons NA session for PM Imran Khan’s confidence move

Mehmood noted that no political party in Pakistan is happy with the results of the Senate elections, adding that whatever transpired during the recently-held polls is a result of the ECP's 'failure'.

Govt condemns attack on Dr Shahbaz Gill

The education minister also criticised the attack on Dr Shahbaz Gill earlier in the day, alleging that the PML-N instigated the attack.

"A disappointing incident took place today in which shoes and ink were thrown at Shahbaz Gill," he said. "We condemn this attack."

"When matters go according to the wishes of the PML-N, everything is fine; however, when things go against them, the party decides to attack," said the minister.

"The PML-N has been responsible for an attack on the Supreme Court in the past," he recalled. 

"When the prime minister was seeking a vote of confidence, their leaders arrived [outside the parliament] to instigate a fight," added Mehmood. 

He said the PML-N should reflect on its decisions and actions, which were taking politics towards confrontation and violence.

Tensions rise between ECP, govt

Tensions between the government and the ECP rose to fever pitch after the PTI lost the important Senate election for the Islamabad General seat when former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani defeated Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh despite not having sufficient numbers in his camp. 

In his address to the nation following the election, PM Imran Khan had lashed out at the ECP and accused it of allowing horse-trading to take place.

The commission had hit back at the government a day later, saying that it has "never come under any sort of pressure and God willing, will not in the future as well".

"We cannot ignore the law and the Constitution to please anyone," the ECP had said.

Referring to former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani's victory over Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, the ECP had said it 'rejects' the analysis and criticism that is being levelled over one result of the Senate elections.

"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 had said.

The ECP had said that it had heard all delegations that had called on it to discuss election-related matters and conducted a detailed review of their concerns and 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," the statement had read.