ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan Thursday condemned the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP)’s move to postpone the election in Punjab, as the party announced to move the Supreme Court against “violation of the Constitution”. A day earlier, the
election organising authority announced the postponement of the upcoming elections in the largest province of the country — citing security reason as the major cause behind the change of plan. In the light of Supreme Court’s split ruling last month, President Arif Alvi announced the date for the Punjab polls after consulting the ECP.
“Today everyone must stand behind the legal community – the judiciary and lawyers – with the expectation that they will protect Constitution,” he tweeted. “For if this is accepted today, then it is the end of rule of law in Pakistan.”
In another tweet, Imran said: “We dissolved our 2 provincial legislatures with expectation that elections would be held in 90 days as clearly given in our Constitution. We did not take this action to allow a bunch of fascists to impose a reign of terror, violating the Constitution & Rule of Law.”
In a series of late night tweets, the PTI chairman said: “Enough is enough. Police in Punjab & Islamabad are breaking all laws with impunity as they target PTI. Today [focal person to PTI chairman] Azhar Mashwani was abducted in the afternoon from Lahore & his whereabouts are unknown.
“On 18 March Senator Shibli Faraz & Omar Sultan were badly beaten by ICT police despite both having permission to be inside Judicial Complex. Hassaan Niazi was abducted immediately after getting bail & later charged with sham FIRs to keep him locked up.
“I am sending pictures of IGs Punjab & ICT & of all officers indulging in this criminal behaviour to international human right organisations, so they can identify those working for the state & indulging in abductions, illegal break-ins into homes, custodial torture & violence against political leaders & unarmed workers of PTI. Demand immediate release of Azhar Mashwani.”
Separately, addressing a joint press conference on Thursday, PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry said his party will challenge the ECP’s decision to postpone the date for general elections in Punjab from April 30 to October 8 in the Supreme Court.
Flanked by PTI Secretary General Asad Umar, Fawad announced that they are moving the top court against the ECP for “breaching the Constitution”.
“There is no other option but to hold elections on April 30,” insisted the PTI stalwart. He added that the former ruling party’s petition would seek the court’s order for holding elections in the province as per the previous schedule.
Turning his guns towards Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif-led coalition government, Fawad said that the joint sitting of parliament convened on Wednesday was aimed at an “attack on the Supreme Court”.
It is pertinent to mention here that the joint session was held on Wednesday instead of 10th of next month to “take important decisions” to enforce the state’s authority. The session was convened in the midst of prolonged anti-government defiance by PTI Chairman Imran Khan. National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, while exercising his powers under Joint Sitting Rules 1973, had made a change in the schedule of the joint session of parliament.
“Judges are being blackmailed and pressurised,” Fawad claimed.
Expressing his solidarity with the apex court and its judges, the PTI senior leader said that millions of people stand with the CJP and other judges of the apex court.
“It is your duty to save the Constitution,” Fawad appealed to the judges of the top court.
Expressing his surprise, the former information minister said they were not part of the agenda of Wednesday’s sitting, adding that the “main target” of the parliament’s session was the Supreme Court.
Fawad further said that they were ready for talks on the elections.
For the first time in the country’s history, a civilian government tried to subvert the Constitution, he said, adding that the nation demands that Article 6 should be applied on five members of the electoral watchdog.
On his part, Asad Umar termed the ECP’s decision to postpone the elections in Punjab against the orders of the apex court.
The PTI secretary general demanded that elections in the province should be held on April 30.
In their orders, the high courts of Islamabad, Peshawar and Lahore had clarified that the ECP could not change the election date, the PTI leader said. He further said that they will not allow any deviation from the Constitution. He also hoped that the top court will also hear their plea against KP Governor Haji Ghulam Ali. He said that the PTI had decided to attend the joint session of parliament, which was adjourned till March 27. Asad Umar said that the party’s senator will raise their voice against the ‘unconstitutional move’ of the ECP. “As per the Constitution, a caretaker government will not remain legal following the expiry of its deadline – 90 days,” he noted. He also condemned the police action against PTI, saying that houses of PTI leaders and workers were being raided while many members were currently under arrest.
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