ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday urged the PTI to nominate its own members in a petition filed by the ruling party, seeking former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani’s disqualification.
A four-member ECP commission, headed by its chief, Justice (retd) Altaf Ibrahim Qureshi, heard the petition filed by the PTI against the former prime minister.
Yousaf Raza Gillani had defeated Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in the March 3 Senate election held on the Islamabad seat.
The ruling party was represented in the hearing by Barrister Ali Zafar.
Zafar argued that the government was represented in the National Assembly by 180 members while the Opposition only had 160 members, arguing that based on these numbers alone, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh should have won the contest.
“Votes were being bought with money and party tickets before the elections took place,” claimed the PTI lawyer. “In the video from March 2, the candidate’s son, Ali Haider Gillani, can be allegedly seen offering bribes to buy votes.”
Zafar said that Gillani can be heard in the video, telling PTI lawmakers to cancel their votes. To that, the ECP chief asked Zafar whether he knew the PTI lawmakers in the video.
“Didn’t you think it necessary to make those who can be seen in the video (PTI lawmakers) parties to the case as well?” asked the ECP chief, stating that the commission does not recognise these members by face.
“The persons in the video should not be made parties to the case,” answered the PTI lawyer.
“You’re saying these people took bribes. Their affidavits should have been attached with the petition by now,” responded the ECP chief, adding that those involved in the video scandal should have issued statements by now to confirm that they were indeed offered bribes.
“The one who offered the bribe and the ones who received them, both are involved in this matter. We can’t make only the one who offered the bribe a party to the case,” said the ECP chairman.
Zafar said that in one of the videos, Rs50 to 60 million were offered as bribes for lawmakers in exchange for votes in the Senate elections, adding that besides that amount, funds totaling Rs100m for development works in constituencies were also offered.
The ECP urged Zafar to make all persons involved in the video scandal a party to the case, adding that if the charges of giving and receiving bribes are proven, then action should be taken against all the culprits.
“Prepare the petition in the correct manner, gather the evidence. Why will we not take action on it [then]?” asked the ECP chief.
The ECP asked Zafar why the ruling party, in its petition, was reluctant to name those who allegedly received bribes.
The PTI lawyer pointed out that PML-N Vice-President Maryam Nawaz, during a recent public speech, said that the PML-N ticket, and not money, worked in Senate elections.
“What she meant by that was … you vote for us and we will give you the ticket in the next elections,” alleged Zafar.
However, the ECP chief did not agree with Zafar’s interpretation of the PML-N leader’s speech. “She said the ticket was successful, not that they would issue any ticket to anyone,” he said, urging the PTI lawyer to bring forth concrete evidence.
ECP chief Altaf Qureshi reminded the PTI lawyer that if the ruling party brings concrete evidence to prove its claims, then the Commission will take action.
“Any decision that goes in your favour cannot be classified as a just one,” he said. “We want justice to be seen to be done. Retract this petition and file a new one,” he instructed Zafar.
The PTI lawyer agreed to include the names of PTI members who were involved in the video.