Govt Spurns Spies’ Role in Vote Probe

The PML-N government on Monday rejected PTI chief Imran Khan’s demand for inclusion of members of spy agencies in the inquiry judicial commission to probe alleged rigging in the 2013 general elections, saying the demand was not according to the law and constitution.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan in his address to a public meeting in Rahim Yar Khan the other day demanded that a commission should be formed under the Supreme Court for probing rigging in 2013 elections which shall include members of spy agencies – Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI). Addressing a press conference, Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar sarcastically told the PTI chairman that it’s neither kingship nor is it is the law of the jungle; the judicial commission consists of judges alone. Dar was flanked by Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid and Minister for Science and Technology Zahid Hamid on the occasion. “The talk of including ISI and MI officials in the judicial commission is surprising for all.

They have not read the law, as a judicial commission comprises only judges, not people of intelligence agencies,” the minister said. He said the law secretary had already written to the Supreme Court registrar to constitute a 3-member judicial commission, as demanded by the PTI chairman. However, the SC has not responded to the letter yet, he added.  Ishaq Dar said nominating members of a judicial commission is prerogative of the chief justice. He said the government cannot even propose the names, and it would notify the commission once it received three names of judges from the Supreme Court, he added. The minister said the government is keen to resolve issues related to elections. 

The economic wizard of the government said they were still ready for holding negotiations with PTI, but asked if they should hold talks over including members of ISI and MI into proposed judicial commission, which is not according to the law. The government would hold negotiations with PTI under the ambit of law and constitution, he added. The finance minister said that Imran Khan might have meant to ask for constituting a joint investigation team (JIT) to probe the election rigging, as JIT comprises members of law enforcement and intelligence agencies. He said the Supreme Court in one of its recent judgments has said dealing with election matters is the domain of the Election Commission and even knowing this fact before the judgment, the government requested the Supreme Court under 1956 Act to constitute an inquiry commission to probe the allegations of the PTI.

Sharing the details of talks with PTI, Dar informed the media that government and PTI held 15 meetings. Not the government but Imran closed the doors of talks, he claimed. Imran has alleged that it was government side which walked out of talks. Dar said that in the final meeting the government side conveyed to them the agreed position of the political parties. He said the PTI team wanted to make terms of reference of the commission according to their wishes.  Talking about the election reforms, Ishaq Dar said the Electoral Reforms Committee is working to bring improvement in the election process and the committee has held 10 meetings so far. The committee has received 1,283 proposals from different segments of the society. However, PTI members had attended only two meetings so far.

He remarked. Dar urged PTI members of the committee to play their due role, saying that government will accept their practical and positive proposals. Giving details of economic losses occurred due to the sit-ins, the finance minister said that confidence of the investors had been shaken. The government failed to complete the OGDCL’s transaction in September 2014 due to the sit-ins when share price of the company was higher.  Speaking on the occasion, Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid said Imran Khan was leveling allegations on the government for the last 17 months without any proof. He asked why Imran Khan did not present proof of allegations. -nation