ISLAMABAD: PTI’s Central Secretary Information, Dr Shireen Mazari, Friday expressed shock at the statement made by ECP member Punjab Justice (retd) Riaz Kiyani in which he referred to Chairman PTI Imran Khan’s electoral charges as “irreconciliable lies”.
The language itself is unbecoming of someone holding such a senior responsible position. However, what is worse is his accusation since clearly he has not taken the trouble to go through the PTI White Paper on Electoral rigging with 2500 pages of documentary evidence plus video evidence as well. The set of this White Paper was sent to the ECP almost two weeks ago and it was hoped that the members would go through it to rectify things for the future. But it seems it was too close to the truth to be comfortable for Mr Kiyani.
For example, while most of the Provincial Secretaries were changed in Punjab by the Election Commission of Pakistan/Interim Punjab Government, the Punjab Secretary (Schools), Mr. Aslam Kamboh and the Home Secretary, Mr. Shahid Khan, who had been appointed by the previous Punjab Government, were not changed. It is evident from the names and offices of the presiding officers that a large number of the Presiding Officers were employees of the Punjab Education Department and were under the direct supervision, control and instructions of, inter alia, the Secretary (Schools) who clearly owed his appointment and loyalty to the PML-N government. Similarly, Punjab Police was deputed at all polling stations and was under the administrative control of the Home Secretary who was a PML (N) appointee. This was a critical factor in the large-scale rigging that was seen during and after the polling.
As was stated in the petition submitted to the SC by Chairman Khan, “the most shocking thing that happened during the course of the elections was the obvious bias of certain members of the ECP in favour of the political party which had nominated them as members of the ECP. Justice (Retd) Riaz Kiyani was more of a representative of PML (N) than a member of the Election Commission. He was himself witness to the irregularities and rigging by PML (N) candidates and workers, but did nothing to stop these. He seemed to be fully complicit in the election rigging in the Punjab. It was extremely unfair of ECP to allow a Member of the Election Commission from a certain province to supervise elections in that province particularly when he was a nominee of the political party that had its government in that province.”
In this context, a few examples from the many that exist, can be cited to show the bias and mala fide intentions of Mr Kiyani during and immediately after polling day, 11 May. In NA 125, he visited over 20 polling stations and at each one he was surrounded by women voters who complained of electoral staff using go-slow tactics, of sending them on erroneous name-hunting missions, of putting the indelible ink on their fingers before they had actually cast the vote – and so on. They all demanded he note their complaints and act but he refused to do so. In the same constituency, Kiyani was also witness to the PMLN candidate’s interventionist behaviour in the women polling station and he was asked to intercede and ask him to leave.
Similarly, in NA 57, on 15th May the full ECP bench allowed for a recount but the RO delayed this until the PML N candidate got a stay from the LHC and the issue was referred back to the ECP. Then a two-member ECP bench which included Kiyani re-heard the case on 17th May and he was instrumental in revoking the ECP’s earlier decision in which he had himself acquiesced. So same law, same EC members, same facts – but inexplicably an entirely different decision. Why? Kiyani explained that consolidation had taken place but that had happened on 13th May, before the first decision allowing for a recount.
Kiyani was also responsible for allowing repolling in NA 103 where the losing candidate was from PMLN (an Independent was the winner) while exactly identical PTI petitions for repolling were rejected.
Even in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, as part of a two-member ECP bench, in NA 19 where the losing PMLN candidate had asked for a recount in 5 polling stations only, he spearheaded an order that recount be done in over 437 polling stations. Showing total mala fide intent, he also gave the order on the evening of 16th May, a Friday, so that the High Court could not be approached over the weekend.
Finally, if Mr Kiyani feels he did no wrong, why is he so reluctant to support the PTI demand for thumbprint verifications from NADRA?
Clearly, Mr Kiyani should re-examine his own behavior during and after polling day May 11, as well as diligently go through the PTI White Paper on rigging before advising Chairman Khan to “exercise restraint” and calling PTI’s well-documented rigging charges as lies. Such absurd statements by a member of the ECP are unbecoming especially since even the PMLN in Parliament conceded to forming a committee on rigging – thereby conceding that wrongdoing had taken place. NNI