ECP has ‘not and will never’ come under any pressure: top election body on Pak PM’s allegations

Islamabad, Mar 5 (PTI) Pakistan’s election commission on Friday expressed shock and disappointment over Prime Minister Imran Khan’s allegations against it, asserting that the Senate elections were held as per the Constitution and it has “never come under any sort of pressure and God willing, will not in future as well.”

The strong comments were made by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in a statement following a crucial meeting of its members to review Prime Minister Khan’s statements against it on Thursday in an address to the nation.

The meeting was summoned by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja.

Prime Minister Khan lashed out at the election commission which he said failed to stop corruption in Wednesday’s closely-contested Senate elections.

“You (ECP) discredited democracy you damaged the morality of the nation by doing nothing to stop vote-buying,” he alleged.

Khan’s criticism of the ECP came after Opposition Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) candidate and former prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani defeated ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) candidate Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on Wednesday, in a major blow to the Prime Minister who personally campaigned for his Cabinet colleague.

According to Geo TV, the ECP in the statement said, “this is the beauty of democracy and independent elections and the secret ballot which the entire nation witnessed, which was according to the Constitution.”

Rejecting Khan’s allegations, the commission said it has “never come under any sort of pressure and God willing, will not in future as well”.

“We cannot ignore the law and the Constitution to please anyone,” said the ECP in its statement.

Urging its critics to bring forward evidence of the ECP’s wrongdoing, it asked them to not indulge in mud slinging on national institutions.

The ECP said that ahead of the Senate polls, 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.

Stressing that it was a constitutional and independent institution, the ECP said that if someone has objections to the body’s decisions or orders, it could take the constitutional way but let the institution work independently, the Dawn newspaper reported, citing the statement.

“It is a shocking matter that under the same staff in the same (election) under the same roof on the same day, (what they won) is acceptable and (what they lost) is unacceptable. Is this not an open contradiction?” it said.

Every political party and politician should have the courage to accept defeat, it said.

It said the statements made by “some members of the federal cabinet, especially by the Prime Minister are “saddening,” according to the Dawn report.

“If the constitutional institutions continue to be ridiculed in this way, it is tantamount to their (government’s) weakness and not that of the ECP,” it said.

Meanwhile, talking to reporters later in the day, Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry said that the PTI and the prime minister immensely respect all of Pakistan’s institutions , including the ECP.

He said that it was inappropriate for the ECP to issue a statement on the Prime Minister’s address as he had said nothing wrong in holding the ECP responsible for the failure to ensure transparency in the Senate elections.

Institutions show their neutrality and freedom through their actions, not press releases, Chaudhry was quoted as saying in the report.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Monday ruled that the Senate elections would be held through a secret ballot, amid a raging controversy among the government and Opposition parties about allowing an open vote to avoid corruption.

Under mounting pressure from the Opposition to resign, Pakistan Prime Minister Khan announced that he will seek a vote of confidence on Saturday.

He also accused the grand Opposition alliance for “making a mockery of democracy” and said that he will never let the corrupt politicians off the hook.