ISLAMABAD: Former Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry’s Rs 20 billion defamation notice to Imran Khan has provided a timely ideal opportunity to the PTI chief to abandon his upcoming agitational “agenda” and settle his rigging allegations in the highest court of the land.
This peaceful alternative of resolving the issue of alleged rigging through apex court will spare the Pakistani nation of agitation and violence and continue its march on the road of progress and prosperity, according to political analysts.
This approach for a solution through courts will also lay to rest his allegation regarding the erstwhile CJ’s role in “rigging” the last general elections in favour of the PML-N. Iftikhar Chaudhry served a legal notice on Imran Khan on Thursday through his lawyers to sue the PTI chief for dragging him in the controversy without any evidence. The time is now ripe for Khan to prove the rigging charges he has beenlevelling against the top former judge for the past several months.
The former CJ has himself entered in the legal battle, so what an opportunity it is for Khan to prove a man guilty to whom he has been accusing of “selling himself cheaply”.
Imran Khan, who is gearing up for `Long March’ to the Capital on August 14 against the alleged rigging, had also staged a rally in D-Chowk in May, this year with reference to rigging in polls.
The PTI supremo in his speech, at that time however, levelled allegations other than rigging.
According to a media report on Friday, Umar Sharif, a civil judge in Gujranwala, resigned from his post in protest against the allegations levelled by the PTI chief against returning officers (ROs) for changing election results.
He said that Khan’s statements were creating anxiety in the country, whereas the reality was that ROs had nothing to do with rigging. He said he had resigned because being a civil judge he could not answer Khan’s allegations, adding that If the PTI chief said anything about the courts in future, he would give him a befitting reply.
In an interview with a television channel, Umar Sharif made it clear that facts were being distorted.
He said in the election of May, 2013, job of the returning officers was to only send the results, received from the presiding officers, to the Election Commission. The returning officers could not have influenced the elections in anyway, he remarked.
The judge said, “I have resigned because of the loose talk of Imran Khan. I resigned as I was irritated the way he was talking. Sometimes he insults the judiciary and sometimes he insults the police department.”
“I could not express my views by staying in the judiciary, therefore I resigned and now I am totally free. If Imran Khan will talk against judiciary or any judge, I will, Inshallah, respond to
it,” Umer added.
In May 2013 elections, he said, he was in charge of the monitoring team. He said Imran Khan talked against the returning officers and may be he did not even know what their role is.
Returning officers only have to collect results and then give it to the Election Commission, he clarified, adding a presiding officer prepares the result and the statement of count.
He said the presiding officer counts all the votes before the candidates or their agents, then he announces the whole result and also pastes a copy of it at the polling station.The presiding officer then gives statement of the count to the returning officer, who cannot make any change in the figure, he added.
Umer Sharif noted that since 2009, Imran Khan always said that Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was saying all the right things. He said it was demand of Imran Khan that civil judges, session judges and additional session judges should hold elections.
If Allah wants to make Imran Khan Prime Minister he will become, but he should be patient and should not insult the institutions, he added.
Umer Sharif asked whether it was dignified that Imran Khan should say that he will hang policemen.
The question also arises here that if elections were rigged, as claimed by Khan, then why his polling agents appointed at different polling stations signed and accepted the results on the
evening of polling day. If no objection was raised by them at that time, then why is there so much hue and cry now?, asked the analysts.
As far Imran Khan’s demands for verification of votes in some constituencies, the Election Commission has already stated that it could only be taken by the election tribunals and not by anyone else.
Similarly, the demand for recounting of votes in any constituency purely falls in the jurisdiction of election tribunals.
As per the law and the Constitution, the verification of votes and their recounting could only be ordered by the election tribunals.Whatever the decision an election tribunal takes, the ECP is bound to implement it.
One also wonders as to why the PTI chief has taken so long for demanding recounting in some constituencies? According to an ECP official, under the law, the Commission could only order recounting and even re-election in any constituency where it was convinced ofprima facie irregularities, but it could be done only within 60 days of the elections. After the lapse of this period all such matters had to be dealt with by election tribunals. If anyone has any objection on the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), he/she had to approach the Supreme Judicial Council for his removal as per Article 209 of the Constitution.
One can also note irregularities committed by Imran Khan’s counsel and adjournments taken by him during hearing of the petitions on rigging in NA-22 constituency in 2013 general
elections. These fully exposed the PTI leadership’s claims. There were several glaring irregularities in Khan’s petition, including submission of a female’s affidavit for a male polling station, not having original affidavits, objections raised in NA-122 and the actual status and the objections raised in PP-147 and their status, respectively.
The PTI head’s case in the Lahore High Court was disposed of by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandiyal following hooliganism caused by his followers. His counsel sought time for filing reply following irregularities pointed out in the submitted reply. Interestingly, the writ petition number in reply was not correctly mentioned, the affidavit filed with reply had two dates of verification (Imran Khan mentioned that he swore on oath on May 8, 2014, while the oath commissioner’s stamp indicated that it was attested in May 2009).
Oath Commissioner Saifullah Khan Khalid, who attested the affidavit, has been declared by the Lahore High Court as not authorized to attest the affidavits. Counsel for Imran Khan has
sought several adjournments after failing to submit a reply.
According to a report of Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) as many as 92 elections petitions are still awaiting decisions.
Overall, as many as 318 (78%) out of the 410 cases have so far been decided by the tribunals and the ECP (292 out of 384 by tribunals and 26 by ECP) while 92 (22%) petitions are still awaiting decisions.
As many as 292 out of 384 petitions have so far been decided or disposed of by the tribunals. Twenty-four petitions were accepted; 22 dismissed due to non-prosecution; 28 dismissed as
withdrawn; 62 dismissed after complete trial whereas 126 were dismissed on technical grounds making the petitions not-maintainable.
Of the 24 petitions accepted, eight were filed by independent candidates, six by PPPP members and four by PML-N candidates. None of the petitions filed by PTI have been accepted so far.
Pakistan is facing a host of challenges, including the menace of terrorism. Political stability is badly needed to wade through these serious challenges. Many in the country are still hopeful that political wisdom would prevail and PTI chief would rethink over his current policies, giving a chance to democracy to flourish.