PTI's First Witness Cross-Examined by Judicial Commission

Formed for probing into the allegations of rigging in the general elections held in May 2013, the special judicial commission examined its first witness from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) on Tuesday. Ishaq Khan Khakwani, the task force in-charge of PTI, appeared on Tuesday before the commission for the purpose of recording his statement. Shahid Hamid, the legal counsel of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) raised objections to some of the statements that were made by Khakwani in the cross examination.

The lawyer said that Mr. Khakwani was not the witness or author of any documents that are attached with Volume 51, in which he alleged that elections had been rigged in NA-168. It was also alleged by Shahid that no certification can be found for the documents that were submitted by Khakwani. Another objection has also been raised by Shahid on the evidence provided as he claims that its appeal was either pending or had been dismissed before an election tribunal or the Supreme Court. Shahid said that Mr. Khakwani was not an agent in regard to any of the 73 pending election petitions and none of the documents have been obtained via proper custody.

Salman Akram Raja, the counsel for the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) said that the affidavit submitted by Khakwani was deliberately vague and didn’t differentiate if these documents were received or collected by him. While the proceedings were going on, it was observed by Justice Amir Hani Muslim that Qunan-e-Shahdat couldn’t be strictly applied to the proceedings of this case. However, it was noted by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan that it is the right of the counsel to express their reservations regarding the genuineness and authenticity of the documents submitted.

It was observed by the CJP that cross-examining a witness is a right of every political party. Similarly, he also said that there wasn’t any embargo imposed on political parties for producing any witness during the time of the proceedings. Aitzaz Ahsan, the leader of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) raised an objection over an application submitted over his party by People’s Muslim League. He made a request for the documents containing CMA 4/2015 from pages 48 to 51. A reply hasn’t been given to him as yet. However, the Secretary was directed by the commission to give him a copy of the documents.

As far as his application for the inspection of polling bags in about 65 constituencies for ascertaining the accuracy of the election record is concerned, it was stated by the PML-N counsel that if his plea is admitted by the commission then the selection of the constituency will also be left up to the commission. He said that the list of constituencies in Punjab had been furnished by the applicant and he can file an application requesting an inspection of bags to be conducted in every province. It was asserted by the CJP that notices would have to be issued to the returned candidates before the bags were opened and they would also determine if recounting was necessary in Punjab or in all other provinces. 

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