Imran Khan Does Not Like an Independent Election Commission

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Respect and strength of institutions is what makes a democracy. Days after losing face and a seat in the recently held Senate elections, the Imran Khan government continues to attack Pakistan’s institutions, instead of indulging in circumspection.

Still reeling from the shock of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) nullifying elections, the government called upon the chief election commissioner and other members of the Election Commission of Pakistan to resign “because in the eyes of the government this august body failed in its duty during the Senate polls.”

According to veteran activist and columnist, IA Rahman, “Quite obviously, the government is targeting the ECP for the defeat of its finance minister, Hafeez Shaikh, by Yousuf Raza Gilani in the election of senator from the capital’s constituency.”

As Rahman notes, the ECP “had only announced the result of the secret balloting for the seat in accordance with the law. It was not possible for it to accede to the government’s irrational demand to depart from the procedure prescribed by the law and conduct the election through a show of hands as fancied by the prime minister. The ECP cannot concede the prime minister’s wishes so long as the relevant law is not changed.”

As Rahman points out, “ECP’s freedom from government interference is in fact one of the foundations of democratic governance. If the government wants the commission to work in a manner other than what has been prescribed and toe its line it has to amend the Constitution. But then the system will no longer be democratic.”

Apparently, the “prime minister perhaps wants every state functionary to be working in the open so that an authorised person can keep an eye on him. There is no indication of the source of this idea or of its being practised in any part of the world.”

Finally as Rahman states, the “move to downgrade the ECP will hit the interests of the state and the people both, and the sooner the government realises its mistake of tampering with the autonomy of the election commission the better for all parties it will be.”

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Author: Nadia Khalid