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Saturday December 10, 2022

Interior Ministry requests ECP to postpone by-elections for 90 days

Ministry cites a political party's possible plan of besieging Islamabad around scheduled by-poll dates

October 07, 2022
Photo of the Election Commission of Pakistan. — AFP/File
Photo of the Election Commission of Pakistan. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Interior Ministry on Friday requested the Election Commission of Pakistan to postpone the October 16 by-elections for 90 days after it received reports from intelligence agencies regarding a political party potentially "planning to besiege the Federal Capital".

In its letter to the ECP, the ministry mentioned that the "party" could "besiege" Islamabad between October 12-17, and the date coincides with October 16 on which the by-elections are scheduled to be held.

"This would require the maximum deployment of all available troops to maintain peace in the capital city," the letter read.

The letter also cited the losses incurred and the rise in diseases following the recent catastrophic floods as the reason for the postponement of by-polls.

The ministry mentioned wrote that most resources have been diverted toward relief and rehabilitation efforts across flood-hit areas in the country; therefore, it would put immense strain on government agencies including the Pakistan Army, Frontier Corps, Rangers, and other LEAs to utilise its resources and carry the extra work during election duties.

The ministry stated that if security personnel is not placed, it would raise questions on the credibility of the election as per the Constitution's Article 218 clause (3), which mandates the ECP "to organise and conduct the elections and to make such arrangements as are necessary to ensure that the elections are conducted honestly, justly, fairly, and in accordance with the law, and that corrupt practices are guarded against".

The ministry has, therefore, requested the ECP to further extend the date of by-elections for 90 days or as deemed fit by the Commission.

The elections were scheduled to take place in eight constituencies — NA-22 Mardan, NA-24 Charsadda, NA-31 Peshawar, NA-45 Kurram, NA-108 Faisalabad, NA-118 Nankana Sahib, NA-237 Malir and NA-239 Karachi.

The ECP announced October 16 as the date for the by-elections after eight National Assembly seats were vacated following the acceptance of PTI MNAs' resignations.

Last week, the Sindh government requested the ECP to postpone local body elections in Karachi Division for three months; however, the request was turned down.