In his 50 minutes speech, Prime Minister thanked the lawmakers belonging to the PTI and allied parties for reposing confidence in him. He also castigated the election commission of Pakistan for allegedly failing to conduct the senate election in a transparent manner, and made personal attacks on the opposition leadership.
In his speech, after obtaining the vote, the Prime Minister once again criticized the ECP and suggested, rather bizarrely, that the electoral body should get a secret briefing from the intelligence to understand how much money had been used in the Senate elections.
By repeatedly accusing the ECP of not doing its job, in my considered opinion, PM is creating unnecessary tension with constitutional institute like ECP that has done well to take firm action against the electoral manipulation that was witnessed in Daska by-elections.
In the Senate elections too, the ECP has followed the opinion of the Supreme Court and organized the elections through a secret ballot that is mandated by the constitution. The government would be well-advised to avoid a confrontation with the ECP as part of its political narrative building as the Election Commission of Pakistan is empowered with article 204 and section 10 of the Elections Act 2017.
The government against the election commission
The number of votes, which indicated the ruling alliance with 180 members, is completely intact as the speaker could not cast his vote, whereas Senator-Elect Faisal Vawda saw the proceedings from the gallery even though he resigned from the assembly on March 3. He resigned after polling his vote in the Senate’s election in an apparent move to avoid his possible disqualification for hiding his dual nationality while contesting the 2018 elections.
Prime Minister, who attended the sitting after nearly six months, had volunteered to seek the Assembly’s confidence in response to the joint opposition demanded his resignation after the defeat of Hafeez Shaikh in the much-hyped March 3 poll for the Senate seat from Islamabad.
The election commission warned the government it won’t succumb to pressure and advised PTI to stop mudslinging after losing the Senate election. Federal ministers should know the ECP enjoys contempt of court proceedings as per Article 204.
For the guidance of politicians, I want to draw the attention of article 204 under the Election Act of 2017 Section 10 which states that contempt is punishable. It seems that ECP may exercise the same power as the High Court to punish any person for contempt of court and the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003 V of 2003, or any other law pertaining to contempt of court.
Kanwar Dilshad, former Secretary to the Election Commission of Pakistan, worked in the constitutional institution for over 30 years. He is currently the chairperson for the National Democratic Foundation; the foundation’s work is to grow and strengthen democracy in Pakistan. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.