KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Monday directed the Sindh government to provide “foolproof and absolute” security for the election process to be held as and when the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Election Commission notified a date for election on two seats of the AJK Legislative Assembly in Karachi.
With this order, a division bench headed by Justice Muhammad Athar Saeed disposed of a petition of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement against the deferment of Azad Jammu and Kashmir election for the Karachi seats.
The bench also directed the Sindh government to take the stakeholders into confidence before sending its report to the AJK Election Commission if it reached the conclusion that the election could not be held due to a deteriorated law and order situation in the city.
The party’s former assembly member Saleem Butt and Tahir Khokhar, represented by Farogh Naseem, approached the SHC on behalf of their party against the deferment of election citing the AJK Chief Election Commissioner and the federal and provincial governments and the Sindh police chief as respondents.
The petitioners challenged the report of the DIG (Headquarters) about the adverse law and order situation in Karachi, which became the basis for the postponement of elections on LA-30 and LA-36 by the AJK CEC.
The petitioners mainly requested the court to declare the report of the DIG annulled as it was prepared behind the back of the candidates and with mala fide intentions to seek postponement of the elections.
Their counsel submitted that there was no threat to the peace, law and order as the Sindh chief minister only two days before that report, while making a speech at the floor of the Sindh Assembly, quoted figures that categorically stated law and order in Sindh had improved and was improving further.
On Monday, Sindh Advocate General Abdul Fatah Malik placed on record a statement of the legal consultant of the provincial police chief making a commitment that he would provide security as and when the AJK Election Commission notified a date for the elections.
The chief provincial law officer submitted that if the law and order situation deteriorated to an extent that the election could not be held in a peaceful manner, a report should be sent to the AJK Election Commission that might take the stakeholders into confidence before the postponement of elections.
The court in its order said: “We would dispose of this petition by directing the Government of Sindh to provide foolproof and absolute security for the election process to be held as and when the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Election Commission notifies a date of election in LA-30 and LA-36 and if after announcement of such election schedule the Government of Sindh arrives at a conclusion that the law and order situation has deteriorated to the extent that it is not possible to hold election, then before sending the report to the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Election Commission, they will take the stakeholders in confidence and then generate and send the report.”
The bench further observed: “However, even if the stakeholders do not agree with the report, the Government of Sindh in its discretion may send the same to the Election Commission.”