ECP likely to hear pleas for postponement of polls today

By Our Correspondent
December 06, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has decided to hear petitions seeking postponement of general elections and is most likely to hold (preliminary) hearing today (Wednesday).

It was learnt that the ECP had so far received over a dozen requests for postponement of elections, whereas it is geared up to conduct the eagerly awaited nation-wide exercise on February 08. A day earlier, it formally wrote to the Ministry of Interior for deployment of the army and law-enforcement personnel during polls and is to announce the election schedule in the next few days.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) sign board. — APP/File

However, according to a senior official, it was a fundamental constitutional right of every citizen to take part in electoral exercise and knock at the doors of relevant forums, if and when it is deemed necessary. “It is for this that ECP has decided to hear petitions for postponement of elections but, in the given situation, there appears no chance of delaying the polls,” he maintained.

Just a day before the publication of final delimitation of constituencies in the light of digital census, two individual petitions were filed in ECP to seek postponement of polls.

One of the petitioners, Meena Majeed, a General Councilor from Mand tehsil of Kech district, Balochistan, through an advocate, stated Balochistan was grappling with heightened security concerns and, specifically, the Mekran division has witnessed a surge in terrorist activities, ranging from target killings of innocent daily wage earners to alarming incidents such as IED blasts and women suicide bombings. The impact was most pronounced in districts such as Kech and Gwadar, where 61 acts of terrorism during the last three months alone claimed 32 lives.

The challenging geographical terrain of Balochistan, characterised by scattered populations residing in far-flung villages amidst mountains, adds to the complexity, she said in the petition. She cited security issues in several districts as reasons to seek the postponement of elections.

The petitioner urged the ECP to accept the instant petition, postpone polling in Kech and announce fresh, suitable and appropriate schedule for election within district Kech, enabling the population to exercise their constitutional right of casting vote, in the interest of justice.

Toor Gul Khan Jogezai from district Kila Saifullah Khan was the other petitioner, who pointed out that many districts, even divisions in the country, face heavy snowfall in winters, which affects the daily routine of residents. As a result, election could not be held in such areas, since the inhabitants of these areas are either displaced or limited, until the month of May or restoration of normal life.

He contended that if elections were held in such areas, it was feared that the provincial or National Assembly candidates would either lose their vote bank or voters would lose their votes in favour of their candidates as the case may be.

Importantly, no major political party has sought postponement of the electoral exercise across the country though some of them have expressed reservations over the delimitation of constituencies in some districts, mostly in Sindh.