Islamabad - The Election Commission of Pakistan on Tuesday summoned parliamentary and party leaders of different parties on March 14 along with “supporting evidence” regarding the alleged horse-trading in the recently held Senate elections.

Leaders of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) have alleged that a huge sum was used in Saturday’s Senate elections to buy votes of lawmakers.

The commission issued the directives after taking notice of political leaders’ statements, carried by a section of the media, regarding the alleged horse-trading in Senate elections.

Accordingly, the ECP issued notices to the leaders including Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb, PTI MNA Imran Khan, Dr Farooq Sattar (MQM-P), Shahabuddin Khan (Jamaat-e-Islami), Azma Zahid Bukhari (PML-N), Muhammad Raza Haroon (MQM-P), Khawaja Izharul Hassan (MQM-P) and Ameer Muqaam (PML-N).

NO DISQUALIFICATION SANS EVIDENCE: SPOKESPERSON

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) cannot disqualify a Senator without the evidence of horse-trading, a spokesperson said on Tuesday. Talking to a private TV channel, Haroon Shinwari said, “ECP cannot disqualify any senator without evidence. Action will only be taken on evidence.”

Shinwari said the election body is probing horse-trading allegations in the Senate elections. Notices have been issued to leaders of political parties, he added.

The ECP spokesperson said that eight leaders have been summoned on March 14 to present evidence of their allegations.

PTI chief Imran Khan claimed that some Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly members affiliated with the party sold their votes. Terming this disappointing, he said that a committee had been formed to probe the matter.

Khan had said strict action would be taken against the members who had sold their votes. He told journalists in Karachi that many MPAs turned down offers amounting to Rs40 million. “I salute those who chose not to do so. Those who traded votes for money will be dealt with strictly,” he said.

Khan said that no state institution had bothered to launch an inquiry despite reports of MPAs selling votes. He said the ECP should have taken immediate action. “I have repeatedly been whistle-blowing against the money-driven voting practice related to Senate elections and have called for a change of the election procedure,” he said.

He said that while the ECP advocated secrecy of votes, it failed to apprehend those who were involved in horse-trading.

Minister of State for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb while talking to media had said that known horse-traders were levelling baseless allegations of horse-trading against the PML-N.

She questioned how Chaudhry Sarwar of the PTI secured 44 votes in Senate elections, whereas the party had only 30 seats in the Punjab Assembly. “Those who were trying to give lessons of morality and crying hoarse to end corruption from Pakistan used the money to win elections,” she said.

She also asked Imran to investigate the winning of Senate seats by the PPP from KP and securing of 44 votes by Sarwar in Punjab.

Meanwhile, MQM-P leader Farooq Sattar had also decried the attempts to restrict his party in the political scene through horse-trading in the Senate elections, saying he would challenge the results in the ECP.

Dr Sattar had said the MQM-P will also approach the Sindh High Court and the Supreme Court on the issue.

Dr Sattar lamented that 15 or possibly more MQM-P members were “forced to change their loyalty”. He also claimed that six party members have been served show-cause notices for violating the party discipline.

In another move, the Election Commission of Pakistan has said that the returning officers had been apprised of dual nationality of Senate candidates.

The list of nominees and an affidavit noting that they had surrendered their dual nationality was submitted to the ECP on last day of scrutiny, the commission said, adding that the information was immediately forwarded to the returning officers (RO) who had completed initial scrutiny of the documents.

A spokesperson for the commission on Tuesday pointed out that the appellate tribunals, comprising high court judges, had not raised any objection to the ROs’ decisions.

The revelation comes a day after the Supreme Court stopped ECP from issuing a notification regarding the election victory of four senators over their dual nationalities.

Three of these newly-elected senators are from the PML-N, while one is associated with the PTI. The list includes Chaudhry Sarwar, Haroon Akhtar, Nuzhat Sadiq and Sadia Abbasi.

During court proceedings on Monday, the ECP secretary informed the three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar that interior ministry had provided the data on the senators-elect who were holding dual nationality. The next hearing is scheduled for March 8.

 

 

ECP takes notice of  horse-trading allegations