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ISLAMABAD: The Elec­tion Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday dismissed three petitions seeking postponement of the upcoming general polls and holding of elections for provincial assemblies’ seats in the Federally Admin­istered Tribal Areas (Fata) and the rest of the country on the same day.

A three-member ECP bench headed by Chief Elec­tion Commissioner ret­ired Justice Sardar Muh­ammad Raza heard the case.

Dr Farogh Naseem, the counsel for Habib Orakzai of the Muttahida Qabail Party, argued that 15 per cent of the people would be deprived of their right if the elections for provincial assembly seats were not held in Fata.

He said the general elections were scheduled to be held across the country next month and depriving the people of Fata of their right would be a violation of Article 25 of the Constitution.

He also raised the issue of scorching heat in July and said that voters’ turnout was likely to be very low due to weather conditions.

“The issue of inclement weather condition in Kaghan could have been raised, had the elections been planned for winter” was an instant response from the CEC who disagreed with the contention that the weather would be too harsh to dissuade people from exercising their right to franchise.

Retired Justice Irshad Qaiser, a member of the ECP from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, pointed out that elections would take place in Fata for the National Assembly seats.

Kamran Murtaza, appearing on behalf of two other petitioners — Chaudhry Ramzan and Shah Muhammad Jatio — wondered how elections for the NA seats would be conducted when delimitation for provincial assembly constituencies had not been undertaken.

After hearing the arguments, the ECP bench reserved its judgement, but shortly afterwards announced a short order dismissing all the three petitions.

Foreign funding case

The ECP bench also took up a foreign funding case against the Pakistan Peoples Party filed by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Farrukh Habib. No one from the petitioner’s side turned up.

The PPP lawyer rejected the allegation that the party owned a company which had been collecting funds in the United States. He said the PPP LLC, according to information gathered by him, was a company engaged in manufacturing of plastic products and it had nothing to do with the party.

The ECP referred the matter to its scrutiny committee, directing the PPP’s lawyers to appear before it on July 31.

Published in Dawn, June 26th, 2018