No headway in govt-opposition talks on poll rigging panel’s ToR

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No headway in govt-opposition talks on poll rigging panel’s ToR

ISLAMABAD: The government and the opposition have failed to break the deadlock over the terms of reference (ToR) of the parliamentary panel on election rigging.

A meeting of the sub-committee of the parliamentary panel presided over by federal Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mehmood on Thursday reviewed the ToR presented by the two sides, but failed to reach a consensus. They, however, agreed to place the matter before the main committee headed by Defence Minister Pervez Khattak.

Talking to reporters after the meeting, Shafqat Mehmood claimed that the brief ToR of the opposition were comprehensive in nature and took into account all aspects linked with the conduct of general elections.

About the controversy over the mandate of the committee to probe matters concerning polls, Mr Mehmood said a letter about Article 225 had been written to chairman of the committee Pervez Khattak who had sent a reference to National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, seeking a ruling if the committee could hold a probe. He said the speaker has asked for resolving the matter within the parliamentary committee.

He said the main committee would also decide if the sub-committee could comprise more than four members. A writ petition challenging the composition of the sub-committee has been filed. He, however, said the sub-committee had completed its work and its fate would be decided by the main committee.

The special parliamentary committee constituted by the NA speaker to probe allegations of rigging in the July 25 general elections had on Nov 9 formed a sub-committee headed by Shafqat Mehmood to finalise ToR for it.

The parliamentary committee comprising 15 members each from the government and opposition benches was formed in October. The committee, mandated to review allegations of irregularities, was formed following the opposition’s demand, but Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry raised questions over its legality, citing a constitutional provision (Article 225) under which electoral disputes can be taken only to the election tribunals, even before finalisation of the committee’s ToR.

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