The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced on Sunday that polling in the NA-60 constituency has been postponed due to PML-N candidate Hanif Abbasi's disqualification by the Control of Narcotics Substances (CNS) Court of Rawalpindi a day earlier.

ECP notification regarding postponement of elections in NA-60 — DawnNewsTV
ECP notification regarding postponement of elections in NA-60 — DawnNewsTV

The ECP in a press release said that the preparations for the general elections were in their final stages and ballot papers for the constituency were already printed with Hanif Abbasi's election symbol on them.

As the ECP is "bound to provide a level playing field to all candidates [...] the general election in NA-60 is postponed and will be conducted after the scheduled general elections, along with other postponed elections".

On Saturday, Abbasi was arrested and sent to Adiala jail after he was convicted by the CNS Court of Rawalpindi and handed down life term in the case related to misuse of controlled chemical ephedrine.

Abbasi was contesting election against Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid from NA-60, Rawalpindi. The PML-N did not have a covering candidate in the constituency.

Ephedrine case

The ANF had registered a case against Abbasi and his accomplices in June 2012 under Section 9-C, 14 and 15 of the CNS Act under which a convict may be awarded the death sentence.

Earlier on Saturday, the court had reserved the judgement in the case, but later in compliance with the Lahore High Court’s order to announce the verdict before July 25 elections, CNS Court Judge Sardar Mohammad Akram Khan announced the order at 11pm.

The ANF had booked Abbasi on the charge of misuse of 500kg ephedrine. The ANF in 2011 had registered another case against former federal minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin; Ali Musa Gilani, son of former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani; and others for alleged misuse of 9,000kg ephedrine, which is still pending before the CNS court of Islamabad.

Last month, Shahid Orakzai, who is known to be a habitual litigant, had filed objections against Abbasi’s candidature which had been dismissed by the returning officer as well as the appellate tribunal.

In November 2016, Abbasi had filed a petition accusing PTI leaders Imran Khan and Jahangir Tareen of not declaring their assets to the ECP, seeking their disqualification based on alleged violations of the lncome Tax Ordinance 1979 and Representation of Peoples Act 1974.

In its verdict delivered in December last year, the Supreme Court had rejected Abbasi's petition for Khan's disqualification; however, Tareen was disqualified for being "dishonest".