Federal Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati on Friday submitted a written apology to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for his allegations and remarks against the electoral body.
Swati had failed to appear in a previous hearing on the matter on November 16, with his lawyer requesting more time to submit a reply. The ECP had warned that charges would be framed in today's hearing whether a reply was submitted or not.
In his written apology, Swati said, “I never tried to scandalise the Election Commission. I am a federal minister and always worked to strengthen institutions.”
In September, Swati had accused members of the ECP of taking bribes from the companies responsible for manufacting electronic voting machines (EVMs).
“Such institutions should be set on fire,” he had said in a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs during a discussion on two key e-voting bills: the use of electronic voting machines in elections and voting rights for overseas Pakistanis.
In his tirade against the electoral watchdog, Swari accused the ECP of "involvement in rigging all elections and destroying Pakistan’s democracy". His comments led to ECP officials walking out of the meeting.
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, while speaking at a press conference on the same day, said that the election commission had become the headquarters of the opposition parties and that it was acting as their mouthpiece.
Later, the ECP served notices to Swati and Fawad over their caustic remarks about the electoral body, with Fawad having submitted his apology on November 16.
Meanwhile, a two-member bench headed by Nisar Durrani conducted hearing of the case earlier today.
During the hearing, Durrani asked about Swati's absence from the hearing, whose lawyer Barrister Ali Zafar said the senator had to leave for Quetta suddenly.
"Is he escaping from the case?" said the ECP member. He further said that all institutions should respect eachother as the electoral body was performing its duties honestly.
The commission also gave exemption to Swati from today's appearance and asked him to appear before it on December 22.
The electoral body also reserved judgment on Fawad's case, saying the ECP would deliver the verdict on the federal minister's written apology.