The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has asked two PTI MNAs – Captain (retd) Jamil Ahmed Khan and Faheem Khan – to appear in person on July 15 in connection with a case regarding use of corrupt practices at the Senate’s March 3 polls.
A three-member ECP bench issued this order on Tuesday while hearing two petitions – both filed by ruling PTI’s lawmakers – seeking disqualification of Senate Leader of Opposition Yousuf Raza Gilani and member provincial assembly (MPA) Ali Haider Gilani.
The PTI was up in arms, after a video of Ali Haider Gilani was aired by a TV channel a day before the Senate election. In the video Ali – the son of Yousuf Raza Gilani, who was the opposition’s joint candidate for the crucial Islamabad seat – was explaining to two MNAs how to cancel their votes.
In his press conference, Ali Haider had later admitted that the video was genuine and that the MNAs in the video belonged to the PTI. The government had immediately cried foul, demanding of the ECP to declare the Gilanis as ineligible.
Later, two separate petitions were filed in the ECP – respectively by Aliya Hamza and State Minister for Information Farrukh Habib and two others – seeking disqualification of both the Gilanis.
Resuming hearing on the petitions, the bench headed by ECP Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) member Irshad Qaiser noted that one of the petitioners, Aliya Hamza, is not pursuing her application. The bench later gave her the last chance to present her arguments for disqualifying the Gillanis at the next hearing.
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Irshad Qaiser noted that both the PTI MNAs who allegedly appeared in the controversial video had submitted their replies to the ECP’s notices but had not signed their statements, which created doubts. The bench asked both the MNAs to appear in person on July 15 in personal capacity.
The counsel for Ali said the ECP could not declare an election null and void after passage of 60 days. The counsel for Yousuf Raza Gilani said the petitioners had not provided them with the video clip.
Irshad Qaiser noted that the petitioners have requested the polls supervisory body to start criminal proceedings against Gilani. The presiding official said the petitioners have taken the position that it is the duty of the ECP to recognize the lawmakers visible in the video.
“So should the ECP summon all the lawmakers in a bid to identify the people in the video? It is the responsibility of the petitioners to prove their claims,” she added.
She said the ECP is entitled to use all the powers vested in it by the Constitution. However, she said, the relevant legal sections related to corrupt practices were not applicable in this case.
She said the ECP is authorized to refer the matter of corrupt practices to a sessions judge. “This case has been pending for quite some time and must be concluded now,” the ECP member noted.