PTI rigging allegations are far from facts

ISLAMABAD - Election tribunal is the right forum to contest the election results as provided in the Representation of Peoples Act and government has no role to play in this regard.

A renowned Supreme Court advocate Zahid F Ebrahim who contributed his article "Ten Truths about electoral rigging" to a leading English daily revealed bitter truth about the rigging allegations by the PTI, showing mirror to the leaders of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf.

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has been beating drums of riggings for the last 14 months and terming the May 2013 elections as the "biggest fraud" in the history of the country, while the facts about the rigging allegations by Imran Khan-led PTI are altogether contradictory.

He said that the PTI and the PML-N are unable to resolve their political differences, therefore on August 14, Islamabad is bracing for a clash, which will test Pakistan's democracy.

The 10 points response to the PTI's rigging accusations have been carefully and cautiously put together in the article in the light of facts given by FAFEN, an independent election monitoring NGO.

Responding to point no. 1 i.e Election tribunals have failed to decide cases, the author said, "Around 410 election petitions were filed by losing candidates before the 14 election tribunals established across the country. As of last month, 292 petitions, i.e., 73 per cent of all cases, have already been decided by election tribunals. This is unprecedented when compared with the disposal rate of election tribunals in previous elections".

He wrote that the point of biased Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is also base less as the ECP did not appoint the judges of election tribunals. Each of the election tribunal judges were proposed by the respective chief justices of the provincial high courts.

Zahid Ebrahim brushed aside the allegation that the ETs were deliberately going slow and said that one reason for the delay is the attitude of many losing candidates and gave the example of the case of petition number 344 of 2013, Usman Dar vs Khawaja Asif where the petitioner avoided to enter the witness box and disregarded the directions of this tribunal on the pretext of business tour abroad.

Another allegation that if election tribunals decided the PTI's cases, the PML-N government would collapse, the author wrote that the PTI candidates filed a total of 58 petitions challenging National and provincial assembly elections in various constituencies. Of these, 39 petitions, i.e., 70 per cent have already been decided by the election tribunals.

Unfortunately for the PTI, none of the 39 cases were successful. Now, only 19 PTI petitions remain to be decided. Even if each of these is decided in the PTI's favour, it will not dent the overall election result.

Election tribunals are favouring the PML-N. The author stated that 10 elected parliamentarians of the PML-N have been unseated by the ETs. This is the highest number of decisions against any political party.

Judgments in only two petitions have gone against PTI candidates. Independent candidates are the biggest winners thus far with eight cases in their favour, followed by the PPP at six.

Ebrahim also rejected that the government feared to open cases of four seats and said that the ETs are the only forum that has jurisdiction to open cases and the government has no role to play here.

Unprecedented rigging on four seats was also rejected by giving facts under the light of FAFEN.

Responding to the blame that the PML-N rigged elections to defeat PTI's Jahangir Tareen, Ebrahim wrote that the PML-N candidate lost election in NA-154 and after the petition by Tareen it was Mohammad Siddik Baloch, an independent candidate who won the seat.

Writing about the notion that even the PPP supports the demand to reopen result of four constituencies, he wrote that the fact should not be ignored that the PPP is happy that PTI is focusing attention solely on Punjab.

The PPP lost a large number of safe seats in Punjab. In the famous four constituencies, the PPP received an abysmal one per cent, 1.6 per cent, 2.9 per cent and five per cent of total votes cast and its candidates lost even their security deposits. Therefore, how can the PPP resist the opportunity to help de-legitimize the election results in these constituencies?

The PTI exhausted all forums provided by law before coming on the streets; the last allegation casted by the PTI was also termed baseless by the writer. He wrote that The Representation of Peoples Act provides the forum to contest election results is the election tribunals.

Around 73 per cent of all cases have already been decided by them. Anyone aggrieved by their decisions can file an appeal in the Supreme Court as mandated by law.

Rule of law is not just an empty slogan to be raised in public rallies and television talk shows. It is the foundation which we must abide by if we are to build a modern and stable Pakistan.

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