ECP summons home secretary over arrest of S.Waziristan election candidates

Published June 28, 2019
ECP observes that the arrests prior to conduct of election are tantamount to obstructing the election campaign. — APP/File
ECP observes that the arrests prior to conduct of election are tantamount to obstructing the election campaign. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: Disturbed by the arrest of two candidates from South Waziristan tribal district, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday summoned the home and tribal affairs secretary of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The ECP ordered Secretary Ikramullah Khan to appear before it in person at 11am on Friday (June 28).

“It has come in the notice of this Commission that one Mr Muhammad Arif (independent contesting candidate from PK-113, South Waziristan-I) and Mr Muhammad Iqbal (independent contesting candidate from PK-114, South Waziristan-II), have been arrested by the Deputy Commissioner, South Waziristan on 19th June, 2019 and 24th June, 2019, respectively, allegedly under Section 3 of the West Pakistan Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance, 1960 (MPO) for one month and both the candidates have been sent to jails of Dera Ismail Khan and Haripur…..,” the ECP said.

It observed that the act of the administration prior to conduct of election was tantamount to obstructing the election campaign and the constitutional duty of the Election Commission in respect of free, fair and transparent elections in accordance with Article 218 (3) of the Constitution.

The notice also refers to a meeting held at the ECP on June 12 where conduct of provincial assembly elections in erstwhile federally administered tribal areas (Fata) was discussed and the polls were deferred for 18 days on a request of the provincial government.

The polls that were originally scheduled to be held on July 2 will now be taking place on July 20.

“During the ….meeting, while postponing the elections for further 20 days, this Commission directed the Provincial Government (represented by your good self) to take extra measures to improve security situation in the subject area for peaceful conduct of elections in order to meet the constitutional requirements in light of the 25th constitution amendment,” the notice pointed out.

In a related development, the ECP authorised the district returning officers and returning officers appointed for the conduct of elections in the 16 provincial assembly constituencies of the tribal districts formerly known as Fata to exercise the powers of a magistrate first class under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, with immediate effect and until the consolidation and announcement of official results.

“The aforesaid officers shall exercise the powers of magistrate first class in respect of the offences defined in Section 169 and Section 171 punishable under Section 174 of Elections Act, 2017…and may take cognizance of any such offence under Section 190 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and shall try it summarily under Chapter XX of the Code,” a notification issued on Thursday reads.

Published in Dawn, June 28th, 2019

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