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Govt goes to SC over presidential poll date

Updated July 24, 2013

ISLAMABAD, July 23: The government filed in the Supreme Court on Tuesday a petition requesting it to order the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold the presidential election on July 30 instead on Aug 6.

The petition was filed by leader of the house in the Senate Raja Zafarul Haq through Mohammad Ashraf Gujjar, along with an application seeking early hearing of the matter.

In his petition, filed a day before the last date for filing nomination papers for the presidential election, Raja Zafarul Haq argued that the matter pertained to public importance and enforcement of fundamental rights of members of parliament and provincial legislatures.

He said the government had requested the ECP and the chief election commissioner to reschedule the polling date from Aug 6 (27th of Ramadan) to July 30 (20th of Ramazan), but they declined to entertain.

He said the date fell in the last 10 days of Ramazan which carried a lot of importance for Muslims. A large number of lawmakers are planning to sit in Aitekaf in the country or in Makkah and Madina and they will not be able to cast their vote on Aug 6. Many of them may also be in Saudi Arabia to perform Umra during that period. The petition pleaded that only the polling day should be changed to July 30 while keeping the remaining schedule intact.

Raja Zafarul Haq said Aug 6 would also be close to Eidul Fitr and many lawmakers would like to proceed to their hometowns.

He said the constitution guaranteed that “the Muslims shall be enabled to order their lives in the individual and collective spheres in accordance with the teachings and requirements of Islam as set out in the Holy Quran and Sunnah”. The constitution also guarantees the fundamental rights, including freedom of belief, faith and worship, besides declaring that Islam shall be the state religion of Pakistan.

He argued that the fundamental rights of lawmakers would be infringed if the presidential poll was held on Aug 6 because they would not be able to participate in the election in view of their spiritual and religious engagements in the last 10 days of Ramazan.

FINAL LIST: When contacted, an ECP official said the final list of candidates was to be published on July 29 which would be followed by the printing of ballot papers and their transportation to the provinces and it could not be done in a single day. But he said it was possible to do it by squeezing the dates at other phases of the election.

In Karachi, meanwhile, 25 forms for the presidential election have been issued by the office of Sindh High Court registrar.

Officials said the forms could be collected and submitted from 9am to 12 noon on Wednesday.

They said the office of SHC Chief Justice Mushir Alam, who is presiding officer for the election in the province, would dispatch the forms to the Election Commission of Pakistan on Wednesday.

Those who have collected the forms are: Irshad Mehboob, Mohammad Shakir, Syed Mustafsir Hussain, Mohammad Aslam Khan, Jawad Jeelani, Haji Khan Mashori, Shakeel Ahmed Khan, Mohammad Absar, Mohammad Waseem, Mohammad Shahid, Shaikh Moazzam, Abdul Qadir Ghanchi, Qadeer Khan, Manzoor Ahmed, Mohammad Iqbal Babar, Arif Alvi, Shamim Ahmed Khan, Shaikh Mohammad Arshad Jabbar, Malik Jaffer, Sohail-ur-Rehman, Mohammad Ilyas, Ghayur Mohammad Khan and Noshad Ahmed Umrani.

According to sources, several forms were collected on behalf of candidates belonging to different political parties.