Growing rifts: PTI tribunal head ignores Imran’s decision

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ISLAMABAD: Fissures within the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) came out in the open on Saturday when Imran Khan dissolved the party’s two-member election tribunal after its head refused to obey the chief’s orders.

In what appeared to be a pre-emptive move, the PTI chairman had suspended the panel just 48 hours before its hearing in Karachi. The panel, formed by Imran in December 2013, was set to meet on April 27 to decide on show-cause notices, as well as hearing complaints regarding allegations of massive irregularities, corruption and fraud during the intra-party elections held on March 18, 2013.

Imran’s decision to dissolve the panel headed by Justice (retd) Wajihuddin Ahmed coincided with the PTI’s 19th foundation day.

In the notification, he lamented that despite his earlier statement the tribunal continued to issue notices and pronounce orders, hampering the party’s working in “these critical times”. “I as the chairman hereby formally notify the election tribunal stands dissolved with effect from March 22. This is in confirmation of my earlier public statement,” he stated.

The decision was, however, immediately rejected by Justice Wajihuddin, who went on to compare Imran with military dictators. “The tribunal would meet, as already scheduled on the 27th at 3:00pm at the same place (Gabol House),” he said. “There would be business as usual.”

“Under judicial norms, a part-heard matter cannot, administratively, be taken away while a judge or judges are hearing it,” he declared. “The chairman wanted either the tribunal should travel to Islamabad for dispensing justice at the doorsteps or hear him through video conferencing. The tribunal did not oblige.”

He compared Imran’s action to dictators like Ayub Khan, Ziaul Haq and Pervez Musharraf for their illegal and unconstitutional decisions to seek a subservient judiciary. “Have we ourselves changed rather than changing Pakistan for the better?” Justice Wajih questioned.

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