Pakistan Today (Lahore)
PTI minsters’ problem with authority
Constantly at loggerheads with the ECP
PRIME MINISTER imran Khan and his party, the PTI, are strong proponents of electoral reform and while in opposition held a 126-day-long sit-in to protest against alleged rigging in the 2013 elections that brought the PML(N) to power, but when it comes to its own track record of operating within the limitations of election laws as laid down and implemented by the ECP, it cuts a sorry figure. The tirade of abuse and unsubstantiated accusations by two of its ministers launched against the ECP and the Chief Election Commissioner notwithstanding, the PTI has so far been unable to wriggle out or prove its innocence in the foreign funding case against it. While both ministers in question, Fawad Chaudhry and Azam swati, have apologized for their actions, there are examples of more recalcitrant senior members of the ruling government who have become habitual offenders and are constantly at loggerheads with the ECP.
Former Federal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda for example, has been evading the ECP and the courts over probable disqualification on account of being unable to prove that he was not a dual national when contesting 2018 elections. in fact, his switch to the Upper house, was to avoid an imminent disqualification from his seat in the Lower house. he further made a mockery of Parliament and election rules retaining his Mna-ship to vote in the senate elections held earlier this year, only to resign from the National Assembly the same day and become a candidate for a senate seat in the same election. That he has so far failed to produce any documentation proving he was in fact not a Us passport holder when he filed his nomination papers for the last general elections suggests that no such document exists and the ECP has legitimate grounds to disqualify him.
Apart from procedural and documentary violations, the PTI has a history of campaigning violations to boot and no one has a more colorful reputation and record in this regard than Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairsali Amin Khan Gandapur who not only regularly threatens opposition candidates but openly distributes money during pre-election campaign rallies to voters, a blatant violation of the ECP’S code of conduct. Perhaps the only positive takeaway from all of this is that the ECP has not shown any leniency in any of these matters and pursued each case with a determination to identify and punish wrongdoing. it should continue with this same vigour to make sure elections are free, fair and all political parties adhere to the same set of laws, rules and regulations.