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Pakistan Top Stories

Judicial Commission gives questionnaire to political parties regarding 2013 alleged poll rigging

ISLAMABAD: The Judicial Commission formed to probe rigging allegations during the 2013 general elections held its proceedings at the Supreme Court building on Monday. The judicial commission presented a questionnaire to political parties asking them to submit responses on alleged poll rigging by today (Tuesday).

Three member commission headed by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk and comprising Justice Amir Hani Muslim and Justice Ijaz Afzal Khan conducted third hearing of the commission.

During proceedings Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk said some parties did not submit documents under the commission’s terms of reference and most of the documents submitted were generic.

The JC provided all political parties a questionnaire pertaining to the terms of reference which asks if they thought there was systematic rigging in the 2013 elections, who had made the plan for systematic rigging, is there evidence to prove systematic rigging, how was the plan made and implemented.  The commission asked whether the planned rigging was done in National Assembly elections or rigging was also done in provincial assemblies’ elections. The commission said if rigging was done in National Assembly then all provinces should be included in probe or specific province should be included.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and PML-N legal and political teams were present during the hearing of commission. Salman Akram Raja appeared before the commission on behalf of Election Commission of Pakistan. The JC urged the political parties to cooperate in the matter.

PML-N lawyer Shahid Hamid appeared before the commission and said the PML-Q’s petition did not spare anyone and even the judiciary’s independence was attacked. He said international observers termed the 2013 elections in Pakistan as transparent. He said PTI has leveled allegations based on presumptions. Upon this Chief Justice said that judicial commission will take action based on evidences and not on presumptions.

There was an argument between Shahid Hamid and the lawyer for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Abdul Hafiz Pirzada which was stopped by the chief justice.

Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk remarked that some Returning Officers (ROs) were changed without the consent of the Election Commission of Pakistan, adding that this should have been in the ECP’s knowledge.

The lawyers of the BNP-M and BNP-A also appeared before the commission on Monday. The lawyer for the BNP-A said that the Chief Secretary of Balochistan at that time had played a role in rigging as he was also holding the post of Secretary ECP.

On the request of the BNP-A, the Judicial Commission issued a notice to the ECP and sought a reply within two days. Chief justice the next meeting of the commission will held tomorrow (Wednesday) at 11:30 am. Chief justice said that the commission starts its proceedings after finalizing terms of reference.

The commission was formed earlier this month, following the Ordinance issued by President Mamnoon Hussain to proceed with the formation of a judicial commission which would investigate allegations of poll rigging, a demand made by PTI during the party’s 126-day-long sit-in in Islamabad last year.

According to a signed agreement, the judicial commission will investigate the matter preferably within 45 days of its making.

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