LAHORE: Addressing a press conference alongside Punjab government spokesperson Musarrat Cheema, Senator Ejaz Chaudhry, who is the party’s central vice president, questioned the ECP’s role during the no-confidence motion against former prime minister Imran Khan and the subsequent resignations of PTI lawmakers.
He said Qasim Suri was the acting speaker when 123 MNAs of PTIs verified their resignations by standing on the floor of the house.
“Those resignations were forwarded [by Mr Suri] to the ECP, but it slept on them,” he said, adding that when Raja Pervaiz Ashraf became NA speaker, he handpicked the resignations of 11 members, after consulting with PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif.
The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) coalition was confident that they would win from those 11 constituencies, hence Mr Ashraf forwarded those resignations and the lawmakers were also de-notified by the ECP, he added.
“When one speaker forwards the resignations you [ECP] sleep on them. When the other speaker sends them without any verification… they are accepted.”
He also listed a series of the commission’s decisions and actions, which he claimed were in favour of the PDM.
He claimed that Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja had opposed the previous PTI-led government’s move to conduct polls through the electronic voting machines (EVMs) “without any reason, to promote the opposition’s agenda”.
The move to grant voting rights to overseas Pakistanis was also impeded by the ECP, while it also refused the Supreme Court’s guidelines to use technology for the Senate polls.
While referring to the by-polls in Daska’s NA-75 constituency in Feb 2021, Mr Chaudhry claimed that the results of only five polling stations were contested, but the ECP declared the entire election as void.
Criticising the commission’s move to postpone the second phase of local bodies elections in Sindh, Mr Chaudhry said this was in stark contrast with the treatment meted out to Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
“Punjab was questioned [by the ECP] over the reason to not hold the [local bodies] polls while KP requested to postpone the polls due to harsh weather, but the ECP rejected it.”
He added that PTI chief Imran Khan was right when he called the ECP “servants of the PML-N” and in connivance with the PDM, as it works to protect their interests.
Mr Chaudhry claimed that one member of the commission had not signed the order to disqualify Mr Khan under the Toshakhana case and that’s why the commission was yet to issue a detailed verdict even after 48 hours.
Talking about his party’s reference against CEC Raja before the Supreme Judicial Council, he said he had also submitted the audio recording “in which the discussion was taking place to handpick 11 resignations”.
He said that another reference had already been filed by the PTI against the ECP member from Sindh, and alleged that the ECP member from Balochistan doesn’t qualify to be a part of the commission, which calls its composition into question.
Speaking to journalists, Ms Cheema said the Punjab Assembly had already asked the federal government to publish the Toshakhana record for the past 30 years.
She claimed Mr Khan didn’t violate any rule to keep the gifts he had received as the prime minister as he had paid “a percentage of their market value” as per the Constitution.
“Imran Khan had revised the percentage [to pay in order to keep the gifts] in a cabinet meeting and followed the due process to keep the gifts home after paying half the price.”
She said after purchasing them. It was his prerogative to keep them or sell them.
She claimed that three-time former prime minister Nawaz Sharif also took home expensive gifts after paying “a paltry sum of money”, adding that while Toshakhana rules do not permit heads of state to keep cars, as they are assets of the state, but Nawaz Sharif kept a Mercedes worth Rs4.5 million after paying Rs0.6m.