Attacking Institutions: Imran Khan and Co Cannot Handle an Independent Election Commission

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Coming on the heels of the turmoil that occurred during the Daska National Assembly seat elections, it appears that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government prefers to attack institutions, rather than work with them.

On Monday, at a press conference, federal education minister Shafqat Mehmood, Information Minister Shibli Faraz and Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhry, all called upon members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to resign, saying the body had “completely failed in making this month’s Senate elections transparent.” In such a scenario, the three ministers said, “there is no option other than the Election Commission cannot continue functioning in its current state. ECP [members] should resign en masse.”

In return, the Election Commission of Pakistan issued a statement rejecting the “discussion and unhappiness over the way polls for the upper house of parliament were conducted.” “It is a shocking matter that under the same staff in the same [election] under the same roof on the same day, [what they won] is acceptable and [what they lost] is unacceptable. Is this not open contradiction?” the commission questioned. The ECP rejects this.”

Further, the ECP said “the Senate elections were held according to the law and the Constitution and were conducted in a “good way”. It said the statements and discussions that had come to the electoral body through media reports were “saddening”, especially statements made by “some members of the federal cabinet and specifically what the prime minister said in his address yesterday”. The ECP iterated that it was a constitutional and independent institution. “[The ECP] has to see what the law and the Constitution allow and what the standard has to be. We cannot ignore the law and the Constitution or bring an amendment for anyone’s favour.”

Instead of attacking institutions of state, it would behoove the Prime Minister and his party to strengthen the institutions and focus on governance.

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Author: Maria Malik