–Opp seeks time till Dec 13 to respond to govt’s brief proposal
–Shafqat Mahmood says general polls were ‘transparent, according to constitutional requirements’
–Opp leaders accuse govt of hindering probe progress, seek central committee for final decision
ISLAMABAD: A special parliamentary committee, formed to investigate reports of rigging during the general elections earlier this year, on Monday handed the government’s 33-word long terms of reference (ToR) to the opposition.
Last week, the sub-committee had met under the chairmanship of its convener, Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood. PPP’s Naveed Qamar, PML-N’s Rana Sanaullah and MQM-P’s Barrister Mohammad Ali Saif had also attended the meeting, following which the opposition had presented its ToR.
According to the government’s “brief” ToR issued Monday, the parliamentary committee will hold an inquiry to determine that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) organised and conducted the 2018 general elections “honestly, justly, fairly clean and in accordance with law and guarded against corrupt practices”.
The opposition, on the other hand, has asked for time till Dec 13 to respond to the government’s proposal.
‘POLLS WERE TRANSPARENT’:
Speaking to media after the meeting, Shafqat Mahmood maintained that the “general elections were transparent, according to the law and constitutional requirements”.
The minister noted that the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) and the European Union had published reports vindicating the conduct of the elections, and said the opposition parties were “only trying to make the elections controversial and political”.
Mahmood said that according to Clause 218 of the constitution, the government has suggested the “finest” ToR, which “covered all aspects of the opposition’s demands”.
“The finest investigation will be conducted while staying within the ambit of the constitution,” he added.
Responding to a question regarding the legal status of the parliamentary committee, Mahmood said a reference in this regard was sent to the committee’s chairman, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, who then forwarded it to National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser for further action.
‘GOVT WANTS CASE TO ESCAPE’:
Meanwhile, PPP’s Qamar Zaman Kaira said that from the government’s methodology it was clear from the very first day that they do not want progress on the matter.
“ToR is a simple issue,” he said, adding, “the government has basically penned down its constitutional responsibility as the ToR”. Qamar added that in their suggestions, the government had made the ToR “very short”.
“The government wants a better case to escape [the matter], but the opposition will not let them escape,” he alleged, adding that all opposition parties will be in mutual consultation about the situation.
PML-N’s Rana Sanaullah added that the very fundamental thing was that the elections were not transparent and that the political parties had not been given a level playing field.
He said that their suggestion was to boycott the parliament but PPP had not agreed and chosen the way of holding parliamentary committee investigations instead.
“The committee has been formed but the government wants a way to somehow escape it,” he said.
Sanaullah added that the government and opposition’s ToR should be sent to a central committee which should take the final decision on the matter.