Imran contempt case: SC orders PTI chief to resubmit explanation

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Friday ordered Imran Khan to resubmit his reply before August 28 in a case pertaining to the contempt of court notice issued to the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf (PTI) chief and adjourned the hearing to the said date.

Pakistan’s top court had issued a notice to the PTI chief over his “critical and derogatory” remarks against the judiciary and judges of the apex court. It said that Mr Khan apparently had tried to incite hatred against the apex court in one of his interactions with the media.

A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, was hearing the case today.

During the hearing, Hamid Khan, the counsel for Imran, told the apex court that his client could not even think of committing contempt of court.

Chief Justice Iftikhar asked Hamid whether he had prepared a written response to the contempt of court notice issued against his client.

Hamid submitted a short reply, which said that Khan’s remarks were aimed at the Election Commission of Pakistan and not the Supreme Court.

The bench had termed the counsel’s reply as unsatisfactory and adjourned the hearing to 11:30 am.

Later, in a one-page written response submitted to the apex court, Khan reiterated his earlier stance that his remarks were targeting the ECP and not the judiciary.

The PTI chief, in his reply, stated that 45 days had passed since the May 11 elections and no one from the Election Commission of Pakistan was paying any heed to his complaints regarding failure to conduct free and fair elections.

Khan also mentioned the various struggles he had undertaken during the movement for the restoration of the judiciary.

Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin G Ebrahim resigns

KARACHI: Pakistan’s Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin G Ebrahim resigned from his post on Wednesday, a week after the Supreme Court ordered the commission to hold presidential polls ahead of its original schedule.

“In accordance with Article 215(3) of the Constitution, I hereby resign from the office of the Chief Election Commissioner of Pakistan,” said Ebrahim in his resignation letter to the president.

“I was appointed through a consultative process by the last Parliament. My constitutional term ends in 2017. However, in my humble opinion, the newly elected members of Parliament should have the opportunity to forge new consensus and choose a new Chief Election Commissioner. This will also allow the next Chief Election Commissioner sufficient time and opportunity to prepare and lead the Election Commission for the general elections of 2018,” said the letter which has been submitted to the president for approval.

The presidential spokesman confirmed receipt of the letter.

Ebrahim’s resignation comes after the Election Commission and the Supreme Court came under fire from lawmakers during a session of the National Assembly and the Senate, with some members demanding that the chief election commissioner resign from his post.

Presidential elections were originally scheduled by the Election Commission to be held on August 6, and the commission had earlier rejected a government request to change the date of the poll.

However, two days later the Supreme Court ordered the commission to hold elections on July 30 as sought by the federal government in a petition filed in the court.

The CEC was displeased by the Supreme Court’s decision, and saw it as “an encroachment into the domain of the ECP by the apex court mandated under the constitution.

According to the report, Ebrahim had written a note declaring the court’s decision an attack on the independence of the ECP, and wanted his fellow members to endorse it and hold the election according to the original schedule. However, he was unable to get the support of three of the four available members.

Mamnoon Hussain elected 12th President of Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Ruling party candidate Mamnoon Hussain was elected as the 12th President of Pakistan on Tuesday, replacing Asif Ali Zardari whose five-year term expires in September.

Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin G Ebrahim said Hussain received a total of 432 votes from the two houses of Parliament and the four provincial assemblies.

Hussain, a 73-year-old textile businessman from Karachi, will be sworn in on Sept 9 at the presidency due to be vacated by incumbent Asif Ali Zardari.

Hussain, who will be president for five years, resigned his membership of the Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N) soon after the election results were announced, in what is seen as a symbolic move to establish himself as a non-partisan president.

Hussain has been an active member of the PML-N since the 1960s. He was governor of Sindh from June to October 1999 when Sharif’s government was overthrown by the then army chief General Pervez Musharraf.

The new president was elected by an electoral college made up of members of the Senate, National Assembly and the assemblies of the four provinces. Voting was held with secret ballots at two polling booths from 10am to 3pm.

According to the official results announced by Ebrahim, 432 votes were cast in favour of Hussain. Mamnoon required 263 votes to win, a target comfortably achieved with the 277 votes cast in the National Assembly and Senate.

A total of 77 votes were polled in favour of Justice Retd Wajihuddin Ahmed, the competing candidate backed by the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI), while nine votes were declared invalid, said the chief election commissioner.

27 electoral votes were cast in the Sindh Assembly, out of which 25 were polled to Mamnoon Hussain while two went to Wajihuddin.

Hussain secured 55 votes out of 56 votes cast in the Balochistan Assembly, while Wajihuddin could get only one vote.

57 electoral votes were cast at the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, where Wajihuddin took the lead by bagging 36 votes against Mamnoon Hussain, who got 21.

Out of total 58 electoral votes validly cast at the Punjab Assembly, Mamnoon Hussain received 54 and Wajihuddin 4.

Earlier, Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim visited the National Assembly while polling was underway. The voters had been requested to leave their cellphones, cameras etc outside the polling booths for the duration of the election.

Strict security arrangements were in place at the National Assembly, the four provincial assemblies and the Senate for the occasion.

PML-N candidate Mamnoon Hussain also arrived at the National Assembly premises while lawmakers were casting their votes.

The main opposition party in the National Assembly, the Pakistan Peoples Party, had withdrawn its candidate and announced a boycott of the election over reservations on the decision of the Supreme Court of Pakistan to reschedule the poll.

The Awami National Party (ANP), Pakistan Muslim League – Quaid (PML-Q), Balochistan National Party – Awami (BNP-A) and the Awami Muslim League (AML) also boycotted the election.

Presidential poll: NA, Senate sessions marred by PPP protest

ISLAMABAD: The sessions of both houses of the parliament on Monday were marred by uproar from the opposition lawmakers belonging to Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) who were seeking more time to debate Supreme Court’s verdict on rescheduling of the presidential election.

Wearing black arm bands, the party members walked out of the National Assembly after their leader Makhdoom Amin Fahim called in question the court verdict regarding setting the election date at July 30 instead a date announced by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold the election on August 6.

“It was an election for the top constitutional office of the country. All parties had started political process after the announcement of the date. But, the decision of the apex court had disappointed us,” he said speaking on a point of order.

“It was not the election of a union council or a cantonment board but for the most esteemed office. It is stated not to comment on court decisions but when the issue is of utmost importance, what should one do. Then one can only protest on such decisions,” he added.

“We also registered our protest before the government,” he said and added that the Election Commission is an independent institution which is not bound to obey the orders of other institutions. “But, this is a different issue that the ECP took due to some of its weakness, itself threw the ball in the court of the apex court.”

He also described the decision as ‘pre-poll rigging’ and said, the situation forced them to boycott the presidential election. Amin Fahim also invited the major opposition party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf to join the boycott.

Meanwhile, speaking on a point of order in the upper house of the parliament (Senate), Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, the leader of opposition, raised questions on the Supreme Court’s verdict.

He alleged that the petition had been filed under Article 184/3 of the Constitution while no fundamental right had been breached. Senator Ahsan said the court could not fix date and time for presidential election which was under the constitution a prerogative of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

He contended that the ECP had abdicated its authority and the court had acted beyond its course of duty as he cited different provisions from the Constitution to support his claim.

Responding to the points raised by Ahsan, Leader of the House in the Senate Raja Zafarul Haq said it seemed that the chair had abdicated its powers and the decisions agreed upon during the business advisory committee by the treasury and the opposition were being violated.

He pointed out that it was agreed that two speakers from each sides had to speak on the matter and the same had been agreed upon by Barrister Aitzaz and Mian Raza Rabbani.

Haq said if the decisions of the business advisory committee are not accepted by the members, there was no need to hold such meetings.

Deputy Chairman Senate Sabir Ali Baloch agreed with the observations of the Leader of the House and reminded Ahsan and Rabbani to keep their word.

Taking part in the debate, Senator Saeed Ghani of the PPP said that the ECP had no idea of holding Presidential poll and the decision of holding the poll was taken in haste when the matter cropped up in media.

He said that the Chief Election Commissioner should take the nation into confidence about breach of its authority.

Syed Zafar Ali Shah of the PML-N said that the previous government of the PPP had facilitated the election of a military dictator in uniform and the former Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar had authenticated the election.

He urged the PPP leaders to move the Supreme Court for a review of the court order about July 30 presidential election if they were not satisfied with the decision.

“If the PPP could move court seeking reopening of four decades’ old Zulfikar Ali Bhutto trial, why it was adamant against seeking review of this case,” he added.

Terming the boycott of the presidential poll a bid to derail the democratic process in the country, Shah said the PPP was a pro-democratic party and it should uphold the democratic traditions and values.

Senator Shahi Syed of the ANP urged both the opposition and the treasury benches to move cautiously as the recent disagreement and discord between both the sides could be a ploy against democratic process.

Many members wanted to take part in the debate but the chair decided to follow the decisions of the business advisory committee and prorogued the session.

PTI wanted to boycott presidential election: Imran Khan

LAHORE: Chief of the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan said on Sunday that his party would have boycotted the upcoming presidential election, had the party candidate, Justice (retd) Wajihuddin Ahmad, not requested for the PTI’s participation in the presidential race, Daily Sitara Sindh News reported.

Khan said he agreed with the stance of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) but his party was participating in the presidential elections under protest.

Addressing a press conference in Lahore after attending a party meeting, the PTI chief reiterated his stance that a closed-door session between himself, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the Army chief should precede a public forum such as the APC to curb militancy and address the overall law and order and security situation in the country.

Khan said that he would not particpate in an APC if the closed-door session was not held prior to it.

Moreover the PTI chief also claimed that arrangements for rigging of the local body elections were taking place on the same scale as the rigging that took place during May 11 general elections this year.

He also indicated full-fledged protests would be staged on the roads and streets in order to save democracy.

Later, talking to Daily SItara Sindh News Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Pervez Rasheed said that the government was willing to hold a closed-door session with Imran Khan and the Chief of Army Staff and expressed hopes that that PTI chief would participate in the APC convened by the government.