ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) warned on Friday that it may exercise its powers to initiate contempt proceedings against those indulging in negative propaganda against the commission.
The Commission enjoyed powers to conduct trial on contempt charges but had so far exercised restraint, the ECP Secretary Ishtiak Ahmad Khan told newsmen at a press conference in Islamabad on Friday.
The ECP Secretary, without naming anybody, accused two anchors of a TV channel of having launched a campaign against the ECP.
“They take a 15-minute start themselves and then provide an opportunity to selected people to spit venom against the commission,” he said. He said nobody should try to dispute the entire electoral exercise on the basis of a few cases of alleged rigging.
He said election tribunals would soon start working and they could order re-polling in any constituency if substantial evidence of rigging was found.
On complaints regarding impersonation of voters, he said, votes could be verified by matching thumb impressions of voters on electoral lists with those preserved in the data of the National Database and Registration Authority.
To ensure transparency, he said, the ECP would place on its website results of all polling stations prepared by presiding officers and consolidated results received from returning officers.
Mr Khan rejected as baseless allegations levelled by Ishaq Khakwani, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf candidate from NA-168 (Vehari), against a member of the commission during a talk show.
He had alleged that there was a difference between verbal and written orders issued by retired Justice Riaz Kiani on his complaint against rigging in his constituency.
The ECP secretary said the commission had ordered re-counting of votes at some polling stations in the constituency on an application filed by Mr Khakwani.
Later, he filed another application seeking scrutiny of polling record in entire constituency. That plea was also accepted by the ECP and the returning officer was asked to check the entire data and submit a report.
He reported that no error had been found in the record and the tally of votes remained the same after checking, Mr Khan said.
The day the report was received by the ECP, he said, the candidate filed another application, seeking cancellation of the results and re-election in his constituency — a plea rejected by the ECP.
He said it was inappropriate to point fingers at a member of the commission.
He said the ECP had identified its own mistakes before the elections and took several steps to ensure credibility and transparency of the polls, including preparation of accurate electoral rolls and introduction of voters lists with photographs of the voters to prevent impersonation.
But, he deplored, rumour churning mills continued to create uncertainty about the holding of the elections.
Excepting a few incidents, the elections remained peaceful and had been praised as transparent by international observers, he said.
He said losers always tried to find out an excuse and warned them to refrain from harming the system through allegations of rigging.
“The performance of the commission is before the nation. It has carried out a national mission,” he said.
Justice Kiani was present at the press conference.