The call given by the PTI for protests outside the various offices of the Election Commission of Pakistan for Tuesday may seem to many like a quixotic tilting at windmills, and even misdirected. The ECP has not notified the vacation of the seats from which PTI members have resigned, and may appear to the PTI to be a ‘soft target’, an institution it can target without the consequences entailed by targeting certain other institutions. However, that should not conceal the fact that the PTI MNAs’ resignations at issue were accepted by a Deputy Speaker just before his own resignation, without verification, with the new Speaker saying he would first verify the resignations and proceed.
PTI Information Secretary Fawad Chaudhry, while disclosing this decision of the party’s political committee, said that the PTI was unhappy with the Chief Election Commissioner, and had called for his resignation. This is the same CEC the PTI itself had named, and only now has PTI chief Imran Khan hinted that he had been palmed off on him by the establishment. While the ECP has disagreed with the PTI over the i-voting and EVM proposals, the main bone of contention visible is the foreign funding case.
That case could lead to the dissolution of the party, as well as the personal disqualification of various office-bearers, including Mr Khan. It is almost as if the party is preparing for that eventuality, and is virtually rehearsing for the protests it will launch. The present excuse seems thin, for the prompt respect for institutions is not apparently expected of the PTI. At the moment, the President and Punjab Governor do not appear to be acting as constitutional office-bearers, but as PTI activists, who will only exercise their offices in the interests of the PTI, rather than of any and all persons, as they are sworn to do. It is essential that the PTI remember that the Constitution does not just enjoin loyalty to the state and obedience to the law on PTI members, but on all citizens, and refusal to obey constitutionally constituted authorities, or trying to make citizens clash with such authorities, is supposed to be done by enemies of the state, not its purported reformers.