LAHORE - After the Supreme Court verdict, the government sees bleak chance of the constitution of the judicial commission to probe the alleged election rigging, though it is ready to go ahead with the negotiations most likely to bring the other party home on this point.

After announcement of the detailed decision by the Supreme Court, the government appears in a different mood on the formation of the commission seemingly on the premise that the SC decision gives precedence to the election tribunals for investigating the alleged election rigging and the related complaints.

The government wanted the PTI to call off its protest spate as a goodwill gesture or a confidence-building measure as well as to lend sincerity and seriousness to the talks. But Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) did not accept the request, considering it as a ploy of the government to weaken the protest move which is largely filled with the over-exuberant youth and has touched a point which can keep the government jittery and bring it under pressure for the acceptance of its demands. Both the sides have indicated that the talks would resume from the point they were left in September and from the PTI point of view only constitution of the judicial commission is left to look into the charges of rigging in the last election after it has dropped the demand of resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

From the government standpoint, the Supreme Court decision has dramatically changed the situation by declaring that the allegations of the election rigging can only be probed through the election tribunals. Though the court has not made any mention about discarding investigation of rigging charges through the judicial commission, indirectly it has held the authority of such a commission to be made on the request of the government subordinate to the status of a tribunal which is set up in terms of Article 225 of the Constitution.

It is notable that the government has already written to the Supreme Court for naming members of the commission to investigate the election-rigging charges, but the needful has not so far been done.

It may be a reaction to a convincing protest show by the PTI in the city or a well-meditated stand that the government side has begun to put demand of the judicial probe on a different track. The PML-N leaders like Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiq and PML-N Central Information Secretary Mushahidullah Khan, without mincing words, say that after the SC verdict the election rigging is to be probed through the Parliament and that too after taking all parliamentary parties on board to ensure majority to enact a law for this purpose.

Federal Minister Ahsan Iqbal, who is a member of the government’s team negotiating with the PTI, and Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid support continuation of the talks, but are not clear on forming the commission as per wishes of the PTI. They stand by other companions to woo Imran Khan back to the Parliament with his strength of 34 MNAs so that a proper constitutional and legal channel is explored. They all refer to the government’s letter written to the SC CJ and express willingness over giving a reminder. The undercurrent of what they say shows that setting up of the commission was not that easy given the court decision.

Khawaja Saad who is ill at ease after Nadra found shady things in the election in his constituency NA-125, Lahore, came down hard on Imran Khan before the media on Monday and clearly said that establishment of the commission was possible only through the Parliament after the SC decision if the probe had to be lent any constitutional credence. Saad described Iman Khan as the leader of the miscreants and charged him with pursuing a wayward policy and being insincere about his demand which implies Khan has some other design except the rigging probe. He said Khan should also take other parliamentary parties on board so that legislation could be carried out for formation of the commission. He said a judicial commission could now be made by the Parliament and told Khan that he was standing at a political impasse due to his immaturity.

Talking to this scribe, Mushahidullah Khan seconded Saad and said, in fact, the election-rigging probe was not the agenda of Imran Khan whom he accused of being a stooge of the foreign powers and the Jewish lobby and that he was bent upon creating instability in the country and sabotaging the process of foreign investments. He said even the election probe would make no difference in the present results, but that was not objective of Khan. He said the recent decision had been given by an independent judiciary, keeping in view constitutional and legal requirements for the election probe while the apt and legal course was the Parliament which would enact a law to meet the PTI demand for setting up a judicial commission.

Senator Pervaiz Rashid said Imran Khan wanted the politics of agitation and talks at the same time, which was a hard task. He said the government did want continuation of talks for constitution of a judicial commission and had already written a letter to the SC for this purpose. However, he said, they would not accept any condition for talks.

Ahsan Iqbal supported continuation of talks with the PTI. Citing the example of Narowal vote recount, he, however, suspected that the PTI would cry over the bogus votes after it itself had tampered with the ballot. He said the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms was at work and asked Imran Khan to nominate PTI representatives for the committee.