With rigging allegations unproven, and the PML-N also getting a clean chit, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is rightly under fire. Imran Khan has threatened to hold another sit-in at the federal capital if the election officials who supervised the 2013 polls did not resign within 36 days. The PPP has also chimed in and demanded the same.

Both parties are right to demand resignations. The judicial inquiry commission has pointed out flaws of the ECP at 40 different points in its report. Imran Khan asks, “What moral authority does this ECP have to hold by-elections and LG polls?”, and rightly so. The conduct of the ECP has been appalling, and heads must roll. The resignations are the best way forward, not only to shake up the ECP, but also to avoid another disruptive PTI dharna.

Many Insafians, however, are against another dharna. It remains to be seen how big a crowd he will be able to gather and if he can deal with the negative feedback from his supporters. What also remains to be seen is if PTI can win in the three constituencies where PML-N stalwarts have been deseated. Imran has alleged that the ECP was acting on the behest of the PML-N. If that is at all true, the PML-N will have to come up with new tricks. They probably will, they are truly a creative bunch - look at all the storms they have weathered till now.

The ECP members need to be held accountable to the people, rather than being allowed to hide behind the constitution. Yes, we have heard time and time again that there was no “systematic rigging”, but many of the “mistakes” made were avoidable and suspect. ECP members are appointed for a fixed five-year term. The ECP members (retired judges of the high courts) are due to retire next June. Three members have already tendered resignations, but a forced removal of the rest is not possible. They have to quit voluntarily, or a case of misconduct has to be proven against them in the Supreme Judicial Council.

After losing the Haripur polls (and five others before it), the PTI has been vindicated. Imran has to prove that the PTI was meant to win in the hat trick constituencies. If he cannot, it might be the end of the line. The PTI thinks itself to be the moral voice on the nation, but even its own ranks have not escaped accusations of manipulation and rigging. The report by Justice Wajihuddin stated that Aleem Khan and Jahangir Tareen rigged their own intra-party elections. Lets not forget that for the PTI this is now about power and ego, just as it has always been for the PML-N. The PTI might choose to fight fire with fire, but it risks losing even more supporters with such strategies.