Beleaguered ECP ‘wakes up’ to expedite electoral petitions’ disposal

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) looked to have finally “wakened up” on Tuesday to direct the election tribunals (ETs) to expedite the disposal of election petitions and submit a compliance report within a week.
The move apparently comes as an attempt from the electoral body to appease the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) that has demanded the ECP’s dissolution. Moreover, the PTI has rejected the ECP’s fresh instructions issued to the ETs, saying its demand of thumb impressions’ verification in four electoral constituencies has nothing to do with pending petitions in the ETs. 
Acting Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Justice Nasirul Mulk chaired a top-level meeting on Tuesday to review a letter written by all the four members of the election commission (MECs) to the acting CEC to formally bring into his notice what the MECs described as “ECP-bashing” by a political party, in obvious reference to the PTI, it has been learnt. The MECs, Justice Riaz Kayani (Punjab), Justice Roshan Essani (Sindh), Justice Shahzad Akbar Khan (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and Justice Fazlur Rehman (Balochistan) attended the unscheduled meeting, the ECP sources said. 
In a linked move that spelled more problems for the commission, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) on Tuesday joined hands with the PTI, with leader of opposition in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah also demanding the MECs resignation. During the Tuesday meeting, Justice Riaz Kayani and Justice Fazlur Rehman are said to have requested the acting CEC to allow the issuance of an official ECP statement in response to the PTI allegations. 
However, Justice Nasirul Mulk, the sources said, did not agree with the idea of developing what he believed was confrontation with any political party. Reportedly, the acting CEC observed that if political parties had reservations over the ECP’s style of working, these reservations should be discussed between the commission and the political parties instead of following the confrontational mode.
“I believe the PTI has levelled accusations against the ECP (regarding May 2013 poll rigging) in the past as well and the ECP has hit back. This should stop now and steps should be taken to revive confidence of political parties on ECP through discussion and consultation,” the ECP sources quoted the Acting CEC Justice Nasirul Mulk as having observed.
After reported discussions, the ECP decided to direct the ETs to expedite the disposal of the pending appeals. Subsequently, the commission issued a statement, saying the ECP sent a letter to the ETs directing them to expedite the proceedings of election petitions pending with them and the “latest report along with reasons for their pendency be sent to this Commission within a week.” Talking to Daily Times, PTI’s Chief Election Commissioner Hamid Khan Advocate rejected this decision.

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