ECP dismisses PTI petition to disqualify Gillani over horse-trading

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Friday rejected a petition moved by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party to disqualify Yousaf Raza Gillani, former leader of the opposition in the Senate, over charges of horse-trading.

In March last year, days before the Senate elections, a video recording and WhatsApp chat surfaced, showing offers were being made to the MPs from PTI by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) lawmakers.

In the video, Gillani’s son can be seen explaining through specific details to at least two lawmakers how to cancel their votes.

A separate video recording also revealed the discussion of money that took purportedly place between Sindh Minister Nasir Hussain Shah and at least four PTI MPs. In the video, there also seemed to be negotiations taking place promising funds ranging from Rs50 million to Rs200 million for development projects for their votes.

Later, in a statement, Haider admitted his role in the vote-trading, saying he had sought support from the PTI lawmakers. However, he claimed he did not offer money against votes.

Dismissing the claim, the election commission declared the former prime minister had no link to the matter.

However, it ordered the district election commissioner in Islamabad to start a criminal case under Sections 167 (corrupt practices) and 168 (bribery) of the Elections Act, 2017 against Haider as well as PTI MPs Faheem Khan and retired Captain Jamil Ahmed Khan.

The agency had reserved its verdict on April 5.

A three-member bench, headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, heard the case.

In its ruling, the commission insisted it was not presented with correct facts in the case. 20 hearings were held in the case and 12 times the hearings were adjourned on demand.

Gillani, who was fielded as a joint candidate of the 11-party PDM on a technocrat seat from Islamabad, defeated then-finance minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh in a major setback to the government. He received 169 votes to the latter’s 164.

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