PTI, Imran Khan Urge SC To Form Judicial Commission To Probe February 8 Polls

Files petition seeking early hearing of their petition pending before the top court. Claim Nawaz's decision not to become PM was indicative their allegations were correct; lament top court's decision to direct PTI-backed candidates to move electoral tribunals

PTI, Imran Khan Urge SC To Form Judicial Commission To Probe February 8 Polls

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and its founder, Imran Khan, approached the Supreme Court on Friday, requesting an early hearing for their petition seeking a judicial commission to probe alleged rigging in the February 2024 general elections. 

"It is respectfully prayed that the matter may kindly be fixed on June 25, 2024 (in the week commencing on June 24)," the former prime minister's petition requested.

It is pertinent to mention that three months ago, the PTI and Imran Khan had moved a petition in the top court under Article 184(3) of the Constitution, in which they sought a probe into the general elections through a judicial commission.

"That a judicial commission, consisting of serving Supreme Court judges holding no bias towards anyone, be formed to inquire, audit, and examine the manner and process of the general elections of February 8, 2024, and the developments that took place thereafter of compiling false and fraudulent results rendering winners into losers and losers into winners," Imran prayed in his petition. 

The petition, jointly submitted by the PTI and Imran Khan, said that the Supreme Court cannot observe the violation of the Constitution and the government's failure to enforce fundamental rights under the Constitution.

They have further requested the top court to immediately suspend all consequential acts of forming governments at the federal level and in Punjab at the provincial level, until the results of the judicial probe are made public.

"There were obvious and apparent developments on the 8th and 9th of February 2024, witnessed by the whole country, that have completely exposed this fraudulent game of turning losers into winners," the PTI contended in its petition.

The petition listed the federation of Pakistan, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), the Pakistan People Party Parliamentarians (PPPP), and the Mutahidda Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) as respondents. 

They have further contended that the ECP had appointed returning officers and other election officers from the executive branch, alleging that these officers were under the full control of the caretaker governments.

They claimed that the level of manipulation and partisanship can be gauged from only one example. The PTI and Imran Khan cited the overnight reassignment of the returning officer deputed to NA-119 as their example. The petitioners alleged that this step was intended to get favoured results through Form 47. 

They further contended that there are hundreds of such examples (but they were not cited) where election officers, staff, and official machinery were controlled and dictated to allegedly issue results in favour of candidates from the PML-N, the PPP, and the MQM-P.

It claimed that governors and law officers, including the Attorney General of Pakistan, were allowed to continue in their office during the elections. There is no legal stipulation requiring their removal/change prior to the elections.

However, the PTI and Imran Khan argued that the worst followed in the aftermath of the polling, when the internet and all social media platforms were "turned to manipulate the election process and hide rigging and manipulation of the election results." (While election results are communicated via the internet, the petitioners did not present any evidence to substantiate any direct link between this act and alleged result manipulation).

The petition further stated that, according to reports and results announced on certain private television channels, until 12am on February 9, 2024, candidates fielded by PTI were "winning," and all PML-N leaders were losing by huge margins. (The petition did not clarify that these candidates were deemed "winners" or "losers" based on provisional and partial results of constitutencies).

"Then, the 'traditional magic' came into play. By the morning of February 9, 2024, all results were changed, and winners were turned into losers, and losers became winners by huge majorities."

By the evening of February 9, the PTI and Imran Khan alleged that the PML-N leaders were trying to fake victorious expressions, but defeat was writ large on their faces (the petition failed to cite how this was an illegal act which required a judicial remedy).

It alleged that Nawaz Sharif "lost" elections in "both constituencies" he had contested (NA-15 Mansehra and NA-130 Lahore), backed out of his claim to the office of prime minister and left it to his brother Shahbaz Sharif to claim.

"The entire nation is witness to all this drama as to how its votes were stolen in daylight robbery. Consequently, it has become a shameful chapter in the chequered political history of Pakistan."

The petition further maintained that many PTI candidates approached the courts, but were ultimately sent back to the ECP on the pretext of alternate remedies. 

The PTI's petition stated that this is not a matter of election dispute but a failure of the ECP to perform its constitutional duty of holding free and fair elections and illegal conduct of election officers.

It further pointed to how three candidates, which were backed by the disqualified PTI, including lawyers Shoaib Shaheen, Syed Muhammad Ali Bukhari, and Shaukat Mahmood Basra, had contested from the constituencies of NA-47, NA-48, and NA-163, respectively, and had allegedly won their respective elections with huge margins. 

"Their respective affidavits with comparative charts showing the actual results according to Form-45," it said, adding that the Form-47 from the same constituencies showed manipulated results typifying the manner of fraud and distortions in the results to rig and manipulate elections, denying political justice to the people of Pakistan and those genuinely elected as members.  

"The people allegedly elected and returned to assemblies are breaching the public trust by exercising state authority by way of fraud."

The PTI and Imran Khan contended that the Constitution casts a heavy duty upon the ECP to hold free, fair and transparent elections in Pakistan.

"It has failed to perform its duties as given in Articles 218, 219 and related provisions of the Constitution as a result of the elections held on February 8, 2024, which were massively rigged and manipulated through the Returning Officers (ROs) appointed by Respondent No.2 (ECP) and all caretaker governments were part of this fraud upon the electorate."

The caretaker governments in general and caretaker Prime Minister Anwarul Haq Kakar in particular, through his acts and deeds, violated their solemn oaths and subverted the Constitution for which he must be tried for high treason, the PTI and Imran Khan demanded.

It further demanded that Punjab caretaker chief minister Mohsin Naqvi, who was rewarded for his great services by being appointed as the Pakistan Cricket Board chairman and then as a member of the federal cabinet, violated his oaths and subverted the Constitution, for which he must be tried for high treason.

The writer is an Islamabad based journalist working with The Friday Times. He tweets @SabihUlHussnain