ISLAMABAD: The by-election for NA-205 (Ghotki) is set to be delayed for days, if not weeks, as the election tribunal could not adjudicate on appeals against acceptance and rejection of nomination papers of four candidates.
Informed sources told Dawn that the provincial election commission of Sindh in a report sent to the ECP has recommended that the election be delayed till July 25. The report says that in an unusual and unprecedented development, the election tribunal has not only set July 16 as the date for announcing its decision on appeals, but it has also directed the ECP not to print nomination papers.
The ECP had set June 25 as the last date for disposal of appeals against acceptance or rejection of nomination papers of candidates from the constituency and the inordinate delay is causing problems for the commission as it would have only a day for printing and transportation of ballot papers to the returning officer.
The provincial election commission’s report will be placed before the ECP on Monday for consideration, but sources said the ECP could take a decision on setting a new poll day only after the decision of the tribunal.
“But this is for sure that the election will not take place on time and will have to be delayed for a few days,” an official of the ECP told Dawn.
Concerned over the possible postponement of the by-election in NA-205 (Ghotki) scheduled for July 18 the Pakistan Peoples Party has urged the Supreme Court to immediately intervene and ensure holding of election as per schedule.
In a statement issued here on Saturday, PPP Secretary General Farhatullah Babar said that after the announcement of election schedule on June 10, nomination papers had been filed by candidates including PPP’s Sardar Mohammad Bukhsh Mahar.
He further said that after the scrutiny of nomination papers and dismissal of appeals against the PPP candidate by the election tribunal a final list of candidates had also been announced.
“Since then, however, pressure has been exerted on the local administration and politicians to keep the PPP candidate out of the race. Two mukhtiarkars of Ghotki have been abducted in search of some incriminating documents against the PPP candidate. FIRs have already been registered against the abduction of the mukhtiarkars, he said.
Meanwhile, the PPP candidate’s nomination papers were also challenged through a constitutional petition. After arguments on July 11, the judgement was reserved which will be announced on July 16.
However, since the campaigning will come to an end on July 16 the PPP candidate will be left with no time to file an appeal in case the verdict went against him, he said.
In that case, the PPP leader said, not only the PPP candidate, but a political party would effectively be disenfranchised.
“The PPP demands that under no circumstances the July 18 Ghotki by-election be postponed. It urges the Honorable Supreme Court to ensure that election is not postponed and that free, fair and transparent election is held under the Constitution and the rights of people protected,” Mr Babar said.
The National Assembly’s seat from Ghotki fell vacant after the death of Sardar Ali Muhammad Khan Mahar.
Published in Dawn, July 14th, 2019