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Answer to 10 Truths by Zahid F Ebrahim

A very senior and respected writer Mr. Zahid F Ebrahim wrote a beautiful piece about 10 myths of 2013 elections. Here below you may find my humble and respectful reply to him.

1) Election tribunals have failed to decide cases — Around 410 election petitions were filed by losing candidates before the 14 election tribunals established across the country. As of last month, 292 petitions, i.e., 73 per cent of all cases, have already been decided by election tribunals. This is unprecedented when compared with the disposal rate of election tribunals in previous elections.
Answer: There is a huge difference in auditing the polling in those constituencies and dismissing the petitions on TECHNICAL basis. You could dismiss all petitions and your resolution rate would become 100%

2) Judges of election tribunals were appointed under a faulty process by a biased Election Commission of Pakistan — In previous elections, high court judges were burdened with the responsibility to decide petitions after completing their usual day’s work. Now, election tribunals are manned by retired judges, whose only work is to decide election cases. The ECP did not appoint these judges. Each of the election tribunal judges were proposed by the respective chief justices of the provincial high courts.
Answer: The author simply mentioned that 'retired judges' have been appointed this time as if it made the process correct. He should have instead focused on what exactly was the process to appoint those judges? 

3) Election tribunals are purposely going slow — It is correct that election tribunals were not able to meet the 120-day deadline to decide cases. One reason for the delay is the attitude of many losing candidates. Take for example the case of petition number 344 of 2013, Usman Dar vs Khawaja Asif. In its decision, the tribunal wrote: “The way the petitioner avoided to enter the witness box and disregarded the directions of this tribunal on the pretext of business tour abroad, provides a basis to infer that he was/is no more interested in the matter. Costs of adjournments to the tune of Rs30,000/- have not been paid by the petitioner till date. It appears that after filing the election petition, the petitioner lost interest in the election dispute and then attempted to prolong the trial … the petitioner failed to prove the allegations … (and) the election petition is found to be without any merit and is accordingly dismissed … .”
Answer: It is very easy to dismiss a petition on such technical terms as explained already in point 1 above. This is precisely what is wrong. If someone could not attend ONE hearing, does he lose the right to justice? This argument infact itself proves to be in favor of the argument that Election Tribunals are biased. 

4) If election tribunals decided the PTI’s cases, the PML-N government would collapse — The PTI candidates filed a total of 58 petitions challenging National and provincial assembly elections in various constituencies. Of these, 39 petitions, i.e., 70 per cent have already been decided by the election tribunals. Unfortunately for the PTI, none of the 39 cases were successful. Now, only 19 PTI petitions remain to be decided. Even if each of these is decided in the PTI’s favour, it will not dent the overall election result.
Answer: Even if PTI loses all seats, we are least  bothered. This is again a self-defeating argument. We want to ensure that elections were free, fair and transparent irrespective of who stays in government and who doesn't. It is not about number game, it is about fairness of the process. If elections were fair, why can't we have their audit? A simple question

5) Election tribunals are favouring the PML-N — Thus far, 10 elected parliamentarians of the PML-N have been unseated by the election tribunals. This is the highest number of decisions against any political party. Judgments in only two petitions have gone against PTI candidates. Independent candidates are the biggest winners thus far with eight cases in their favour, followed by the PPP at six.
Answer: This proves nothing. When PML-N won many seats, its losing percentage would obviously be in accordance with that. And do not forget the principle of: "Lets punish a few to make the process look credible"

6) If the government has nothing to hide, then why is it refusing to open the cases of four seats demanded by the PTI — The election results on the four National Assembly seats, i.e., NA-110, NA-122, NA-125 and NA-154 have already been opened and are subjects of judicial inquiry by the election tribunals, which are the only forum for opening disputed results of any election. The government has no role to play here.
Answer: What took Election Commission 14 months to open and decide these cases? Why not even a single of these constituences demandaed by PTI right from the start have been decided? Why? Why so much delay? Do they want to complete 5 years and then the results will be announced? How does opening up and not decising the cases for so long proves that election commission is fair? I wonder!

7) Unprecedented rigging on four seats — NA-110 was one of the four seats cited for election rigging. According to FAFEN, the number of electoral violations in NA-110 is zero. Compare this with NA-1, where Imran Khan won the election. The electoral violations here are listed as 58 by FAFEN. The point is not that the NA-1 result was manipulated simply because FAFEN listed these violations. The point is that there were approximately 90,000 polling stations across the country. Electoral law violations in some of these, deplorable as they may be, do not make these a rigged parliament.
Answer: Once again, whether Imran Khan won or lost if electoral violations occured, how many have been punished? Has the responsibility been fixed? What about thumb audit of NA 110?

8) The PML-N rigged elections to defeat the PTI’s Jahangir Tareen — NA-154 is another one of the four seats. Here, the PML-N is blamed for stealing Tareen’s victory. But it is interesting to note that the PML-N candidate here also lost the election. The winner was an independent candidate, Mohammad Siddik Baloch. If the PML-N wanted to rig this seat, why would its candidate come a distant third?
Answer: Once again, that constituency has been opened and so far gross anomalies have been found. Whether PML-N did it or someone else did it, where are the culprits? Where are the punishments?

9) Even the PPP supports the demand to reopen result of four constituencies — The PPP is happy that the PTI is focusing attention solely on Punjab. The PPP lost a large number of safe seats in Punjab. Although this has happened before, this time, the loss threatens its very existence in Punjab. In the famous four constituencies, the PPP received an abysmal one per cent, 1.6 per cent, 2.9 per cent and five per cent of total votes cast and its candidates lost even their security deposits. Therefore, how can the PPP resist the opportunity to help de-legitimise the election results in these constituencies?
Answer: PTI's major vote share was from Punjab and KPK so its natural that PTI would focus more on Punjab. Some rocket science? PPP will obviously support it because it does not affect them. How does it prove innocence of Election Commission and fairness of elections? And by the way, a PML-N candidate who was at 6th position in an NA constituency in KPK has done the same.

10) The PTI exhausted all forums provided by law before coming on the streets — The Representation of Peoples Act provides that the forum to contest election results is the election tribunals. Around 73 per cent of all cases have already been decided by them. Anyone aggrieved by their decisions can file an appeal in the Supreme Court as mandated by law. Rule of law is not just an empty slogan to be raised in public rallies and television talk shows. It is the foundation which we must abide by if we are to build a modern and stable Pakistan.
Answer: Do not hide behind legal complexities. If legal channels were so binding and necessary then why were judges not restored using the same legal channels? Why PML-N and PTI had to come on roads for their restoration? This is a question of paramount importance in a democracy: Fairness of Elections and it requires ultimate measures at any cost. If judges could be resoted out of parliament and court when judiciary was just a pillar of the democracy, why can't true democracy (which results only after fair elections) be restored using the same principle and route?

And now comes the icing on the cake:
1. Why have Forms XIV (on the basis of which results are declared) not yet been made public? Thats the primary document using which political parties verify the count and turn out with their own data tables!
2. Why were polling schemes of more than 90 constituences changed one night before elections?
3. Why was trained polling stafff replaced with untrained political staff days before elections without informing anyone?
4. These elections were conducted on the premise that there would be magnetic ink through which each thumb of voters would be verifiable. This is why many parties including PTI agreed to election and its procedures. When even that was absent and it was not even announced until PTI demanded for thumb verification, where does this whole process stand? Virtually in hell and thats precisely where this Nincompoop Govt along with Nincompoop election commission stands!
By the way, has anyone been punished so far for above very obvious and gross violations of election law?

Source Article: http://tribune.com.pk/story/743813/ten-truths-about-electoral-rigging/#.U-LNdO5Pekc.facebook

Supplementary Article with proofs from neutral bodies about election rigging: http://www.siasat.pk/forum/showthread.php?271188-Rigging-in-2013-Elections-With-Irrefutable-Proofs

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