ISLAMABAD - The summary trial against the ruling party candidate, accused of ‘brutality’ at a Tando Muhammad Khan by-polls polling booth, is unlikely to pave way for taking the accused to task on account of the “leniency” shown in a related report prepared to this effect.

According to official sources, the inquiry report prepared by the Sindh Provincial Election Commission on the last week’s slapping incident allegedly intends to “wind up” the issue citing “reconciliation” reached between the parties instead of proceeding to adopt a practical line of action. The Sindh’s PEC had prepared the inquiry report following the instructions from the Election Commission of Pakistan after PPP candidate for Sindh Assembly’s constituency PF-53, Waheeda Shah, was found slapping the Presiding Officer and Assistant Presiding Officer during by-polls. These elections were held on March 2. Habiba Memon and Shagufta Memon, the two reported victims, “forgave” the accused allegedly succumbing to political and official pressure.

Citing this “reconciliation,” as announced by the two Memons in apparently controversial media briefings last week, the PEC Sindh is reportedly pressing to bail out the PPP candidate without putting her to further trial. Under the existing laws, Waheeda Shah would face three-month imprisonment and fine for interfering in official business and resorting to highhandedness. Her conviction, however, would lead to disqualification in the light of article 63 of the Constitution. The summary trial started in Sindh’s PEC on Saturday.

The sources argue, the summary trial against Waheeda Shah is solely based on the PEC inquiry report and the recommendations for proceeding further on the slapping incident would be made in the light of the report findings. The inquiry report, it is further learnt, overlooks a number of important points that go against the accused stance. The accused Waheeda Shah contends that the dispute between the parties has been resolved and she should, therefore, be absolved of the charges against her. The inquiry findings are reported to have largely endorsed Shah’s stance overlooking the fact that the accused allegedly tried to influence the electoral process that could not be dealt with as personal settlement between the parties. “The charges of interfering in official business and trying to influence the election results would stay even if they (accused and victims) have settled the issue personally. A weak summary trial would give a breathing space to Shah and that’s what she wants,” officials commented.

When contacted, Waheeda Shah said that her counsel had submitted her reply in the apex court. She said that the same reply would be submitted in the Sindh’s PEC. “There is nothing significant left in this case. I think it’s the wastage of time now. I hope the honourable court and the ECP would take stock of the situation and clear me of all the charges.” Taking suo moto notice of the slapping incident, the apex court had rejected Shah’s apology and sought further explanation into the matter. The ECP withheld the results of Tando Muhammad Khan by-polls wherein Waheeda Shah had unofficially stood victorious.

Last week, Waheeda Shah had “advised” this scribe not to make “fuss” of the issue. She had further “urged” the media to refrain from digging out “spicy stuff” out of the issue to make headlines.

Presiding Officer Habiba Memon had told TheNation on Saturday that she forgave Shah out of “humanity” as her heart “melted” when Shah, Memon said, visited her place along with her husband and children.

Shagufta Memon, when contacted, refused to comment on the issue. “I have submitted my written reply and I don’t want to speak on this issue,” she said.

A powerful lobby in ECP is allegedly out to save Shah’s skin in the slapping incident episode. Secretary ECP Ishtiak Ahmed Khan had earlier resigned due to his reported differences with Chief Election Commissioner Justice (r) Hamid Ali Mirza over the issue and other election-related matters. Reportedly, Khan wanted a strict action against Shah and decided to resign after he faced opposition from CEC who is believed to be a close associate of President Asif Ali Zardari.