Monday, October 25, 2021

Ballot secrecy violation: ECP asks Imran to submit own-signed apology letter


ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday asked chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan to submit an apology letter signed by himself in a case of ballot secrecy violation.

The ECP bench ordered Imran Khan’s counsel Babar Awan to submit the apology by Friday (tomorrow).

Imran was facing two cases with one regarding use of offensive language against the opponents and the other pertaining to violating of ballot secrecy.

In the first case, the ECP has accepted apology of Imran as well as former National Assembly speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister Pervez Khattak and Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman for using foul language. While Mr. Khan’s apology in the second case has been been rejected.

“Do not use such language in the future,” the ECP bench headed by the chief election commissioner warned the four leaders while accepting their apologies.

Hearing the the case of ballot secrecy violation, the ECP rejected the apology letter signed by Imran’s counsel Babar Awan on behalf of his client. The PTI chief cited personal commitments as a reason for absence from hearing today.

Earlier in the day, PTI counsel Babar Awan appeared before the ECP and said the case shouldn’t be dragged further as the PTI chief had already tendered apology for the violation, which was not intentional.

However, the chief election Commissioner Sardar Raza Khan said a detailed reply must be submitted to the ECP.

On July 26, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) issued a notice to Imran Khan for violating the secrecy of ballot. While earlier on July 19, the ECP had taken a suo moto notice after Imran Khan used the term ‘donkey’ for PML-N members who were going to receive Nawaz Sharif at the airport on the eve of his arrival.

“And whoever will go to receive him will be a donkey (fool),” PTI chief had said. The remarks of Imran instigated a trade of barbs between the members of PML-N and PTI. Following a series of incendiary exchange of words, the ECP summoned Imran Khan but he couldn’t appear owing to his election campaign.

In another case, Mr Khan, flanked by his friends and supporters, including Zulfi Bokhari, openly cast his vote in the NA-53 constituency where he was contesting the election against former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan Peoples Party’s Syed Sibtul Haider, brother of former Senate chairman Syed Nayyar Bokahri.

Instead of going behind the voting screen to cast his vote in private, the PTI chief preferred to publicly stamp the ballot paper placing it on the table of the election officer, with TV cameras filming him. And to everyone’s surprise, the presiding officer and other polling staff did not object to the violation.

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