PML-Q asks poll probe commission to summon ISI, MI chiefs

PML-Q has requested the commission to summon the chiefs of ISI and MI as witnesses to produce evidence of rigging in the 2013 elections.—Reuters/File

ISLAMABAD: While the PML-Q has requested the poll probe commission to summon the chiefs of ISI and MI as witnesses to produce evidence of rigging in the 2013 elections, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has reminded the commission of its own statutory obligation to undertake the inquiry and determine if there were systematic malpractices.

The three-judge Judicial Commission headed by Chief Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk held a closed-door meeting with the representatives of all political parties outside the Courtroom No1 on Wednesday and formalised modalities it intended to observe for arriving at answers to the three-point terms of reference enunciated in the presidential ordinance to investigate the allegations of malpractices in the last elections.

Also read: Judicial commission posits three questions to political parties

The commission decided that from Tuesday next it would look into the evidence and material provided by the PTI and record testimony of its witnesses who would then be cross-examined the PML-N or any other party.

PTI reminds body of its own statutory obligation

“We will exhibit before the commission on Tuesday whatever material and evidence the party has produced,” PTI’s counsel Abdul Hafeez Pirzada told Dawn.

Shahid Hamid, representing the PML-N, said the party would cross-examine the witnesses to be produced by the PTI.

Earlier during a brief hearing, the commission again warned the media against debating the functioning of the commission during which they had gone to the extent of even giving judgments.

The commission indicated that it would also hold in-camera proceedings if it felt that its functioning was being hampered by the media or political parties through their analysis and statements.

During the closed-door meeting, representatives of political parties assured the commission that they would restrain their members from attending television talk shows or media discussions on the subject.

In response to the questionnaire the commission had issued on Monday for the parties to answer, the PTI said the onus to prove any allegation of rigging could not be placed entirely on any political party or person having levelled it before the commission.

“At most, there may be an onus on a political party to establish a prima facie basis for its allegations after which it is the commission, which exercising its powers of investigation and inquiry and in pursuance of its inquisitorial role, has to ascertain the truth with assistance, to the extent available and possible from the political party in question,” the PTI said.

It said the commission might take (judicial) notice of the fact that both the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and PML-N – the latter in power through the federal and provincial governments in Punjab and through its coalition in Balochistan – had the control and custody of all relevant public records and documents which could only be summoned through the orders of the commission.

About the question of who had implemented the plan or design, the PTI said the architects of the rigging were the PML-N, its supporters, accomplices, associates and cohorts. The returning officers, presiding officers and other polling officials, elements of the election machinery and bureaucracy were also co-opted into this design and they too aided, abetted and facilitated in the implementation of the plan.

The PTI said it was an opposition party in the national and Punjab assemblies. “It is certainly not the state.” Hence it did not and could not have direct access to all the material and evidence relevant to the three ToRs, it said. But, it added that it did not mean that the allegations or contentions were frivolous, reckless or irresponsible.

For every issue raised by the PTI there was sufficient evidence which had been indicated and identified and also to the extent possibly already produced, it said.

In reply to the questionnaire, Dr Khalid Ranjha, representing the PML-Q, asked the commission to summon directors general of the Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence as witnesses to produce the record of data compiled and evidence possessed by them relating to the rigging.

The PML-Q also asked the commission to summon registrars of the Supreme Court and Lahore High Court to produce the record of the communication of the then chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry with the returning officers (ROs) to determine whether the former chief justice was exercising his control over the ROs and also determine whether the ROs had been purposely transferred shortly before the elections.

Dr Ranjha also asked the commission to summon former chief minister of Punjab Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi and other PML-Q leaders to confirm that the presiding officers had not provided them the results on the prescribed form and the ROs had not allowed them to participate in the consolidation proceedings.

The PML-Q argued that the mechanism of systematic rigging had been brought to surface and the implementing hands in the shape of ROs had been identified. Whereas to identify the person responsible for preparing the rigging design, it said, the suspicion obviously fell on the PML-N because it was the sole beneficiary of having been thrown into the power through the process of rigging.

The Awami National Party, represented by Latif Afridi, recalled in its reply the threat extended by former Taliban (TTP) chief Hakeemullah Mehsud and said the banned organisation had openly harassed and intimidated leaders and workers of the ANP, thus disabling them to mobilise people through public meetings. It eventually benefited the otherwise non-entities like the PTI to become the ruling party in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, it said.

The PPP, represented by Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, said the election results of Punjab were equally shocking for them.

The Jamaat-i-Islami and MQM-Haqiqi also submitted their replies to the commission.

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