The General Election (2013) Inquiry Commission (GEIC) Wednesday recorded the statements of two officials of the 2013 caretaker government, while the counsel of different political parties cross-examined them.
Former Punjab chief secretary Javed Iqbal and additional chief secretary Rao Iftikhar were cross-examined. The third witness, Mehboob Anwar, provincial chief election commissioner during the General Election 2013 could not be cross-examined as the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) counsel Abdul Hafiz Pirzada requested the commission to adjourn the hearing until Thursday.
The three-member commission headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Nasirul Mulk and comprising Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan and Justice Amir Hani Muslim, resumed hearing of the rigging allegations.
Neither of the two witnesses endorsed PTI’s stance of rigging in the general election. On the question by Abdul Hafiz Pirzada whether extra election material was printed for the general elections or not, the witnesses expressed their inability to reply in affirmative by saying that they had no information in this regard.
Pirzada asked whether Javed Iqbal appeared in a television programme that was conducted on election rigging, to which Iqbal answered in the affirmative.
Pirzada asked whether the question of printing of extra election material came up in that programme, to which Iqbal also replied in affirmative, adding that he, however, was not aware of the same.
When the PTI counsel asked that as per schedule what was the time of arrival of the material at a polling station, the former CS replied that it should reach at its destination three days prior to the polling day.
Shahid Hamid, counsel for Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, asked whether the polling material reached at the destination in that time, to which Javed Iqbal replied in the affirmative.
Counsel for Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), Salman Akram Raja, asked whether he was aware of the Provincial Coordination Committee between government of Punjab and ECP, to which he replied in the affirmative.
While cross-examining Rao Iftikhar, the then additional chief secretary to the caretaker government in Punjab, the PTI counsel asked several questions regarding the printing of extra printing material and hiring of 200 persons from Urdu Bazaar, Rawalpindi, for the purpose.
The witness also did not back PTI’s stance of printing of extra election material. However, he accepted that he received a call from the provincial election commissioner Punjab to hire 200 persons.
In his statement, Iqbal said, “I am unaware about extra ballot papers as the Punjab government had dispatched printing material to constituencies under the supervision of the Army.” He said they had also lodged a protest with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for delay in receiving polling material at some constituencies. He further said he had received a request from the ECP for the services of 200 printing workers through former additional chief secretary Rao Iftikhar.
Iqbal went on to say that Provincial Election Commissioner Anwar Mehboob had said that services of these printing workers could easily be availed from Urdu Bazaar.
However, the former CS said he could not say whether the request was something normal or not. He also showed his ignorance about provision of services of these 200 printing workers.
During the proceedings, a video clip of a TV programme aired in August 2013 about the statement of Rao Iftikhar was played. In this video, Rao had accepted that the services of 200 people were granted.
Meanwhile, talking to the media after the proceedings, Minister of State for Information Technology Anusha Rehman said two witnesses were cross-examined and the third could also have been, but the PTI did not allow it.
“The PTI lawyers seemed to have smelled from today’s proceedings that they would get nothing in their favour, that was why they were using delaying tactics,” she said. PML-N leader Sheikh Rohail Asghar expressed satisfaction over the commission’s proceedings, saying his party would put the country on the path of progress and prosperity under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.