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Friday June 21, 2024

Level playing field: ECP rejects PTI's allegation, asks SC to 'dismiss petition with cost'

ECP says commission held meeting with PTI delegation and heard their issues

By Maryam Nawaz
January 07, 2024
Security personnel stand guard at the headquarters of the Election Commission of Pakistan in Islamabad on September 21, 2023. — AFP
Security personnel stand guard at the headquarters of the Election Commission of Pakistan in Islamabad on September 21, 2023. — AFP

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Sunday rejected the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)'s allegation of lack of level-playing field in the upcoming general elections and asked the Supreme Court to “dismiss the contempt petition with cost”.

ECP Special Secretary Dr Syed Asif Hussain submitted this in response to the PTI's plea seeking initiation of contempt of court proceedings against the ECP secretary, inspector generals of police (IGPs), chief secretaries of the four provinces and secretary of interior ministry for non-compliance of its order passed on December 22, 2023.

The ECP's special secretary said that on the SC order, the commission held a meeting with the PTI delegation and heard their grievances. He said their complaints were addressed and they were assured that a level playing field would be provided to all the parties and candidates without discrimination.

Hussain said the electoral body had issued instructions pertaining to the complaints to the Islamabad chief commissioner, all four chief secretaries, provincial election commissioners and IGs. He added that the orders were also issued to the district returning officers and returning officers.

The special secretary said that until December 26, 2023, a total of 33 complaints were made by the PTI and actions were taken on all of them. The IG, chief secretary and ROs also submitted reports regarding action on PTI complaints, he maintained.

The election commission said the petitioner's allegations were negated by the date obtained from ROs, which showed that a total of 843 PTI candidates submitted nomination papers for the National Assembly election out of which 598 had been accepted and 245 rejected by the ROs.

“Similarly, 1,777 PTI candidates submitted nomination papers for provincial assembly seats out of which 1398 have been accepted and 379 rejected. Hence, the ratio of acceptance of the papers of PTI candidates for national and provincial assembly seats is 76.18%,” the ECP said in the response.

On December 22, 2023, the PTI said that the ECP had "assured a level playing field" in the February 8 polls.

The statement had come after a PTI delegation held a meeting with the electoral body on the directions of the apex court.

Speaking to the media in Islamabad after the meeting, PTI spokesperson Shoaib Shaheen had said that Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja and other officials, taking cognisance of their concerns, had reassured the party that ROs and police officers who had tried to cause problems for the party "will be replaced soon".