ISLAMABAD: In an unusual move, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Friday issued production order for five detained lawmakers, including Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif and PTM-backed MNA Ali Wazir, to enable them to take part in voting for coming Senate polls.

In the order, the ECP says it is its duty to conduct the elections honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with law.

It says Article 220 of the Constitution read with Section 5 of the Elections Act, 2017 provides that it would be the duty of all executive authorities in the federation and in the provinces to assist the chief election commissioner and the ECP in the discharge of his or their functions.

The commission says the Supreme Court vide its judgement reported in PLD 2012 SC page-681 in the Workers Party Pakistan and others vs Federation of Pakistan and others case has held that right of vote is a fundamental right in terms of Article 17 (2) of the Constitution.

Move to enable Shehbaz, Wazir, Khursheed, Asif & Hamza to vote in Senate polls

The order says MNAs Shehbaz Sharif, Ali Wazir, Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah and Khawaja Asif and MPA Hamza Shehbaz (Punjab) are currently in the custody of provincial governments of Sindh and Punjab and National Accountability Bureau (NAB). “Therefore, the ECP, while exercising its powers under the Constitution, directs the chief secretaries of Sindh and Punjab and the NAB chairman to ensure the lawmakers’ presence at their designated polling stations for casting their votes on March 3.”

The commission also directed all chief secretaries and the NAB chairman to ensure presence of any other member of the national or provincial assembly in custody at their designated polling stations for casting their votes on the polling day.

When contacted, a senior official of the ECP said production orders would be issued across the board for every detained lawmaker for voting in the Senate elections.

Answering a question about the ECP’s refusal to issue production order for the leader of the opposition in Sindh Assembly Haleem Adil Sheikh, he said it was a separate matter linked with verification of his signatures on nomination papers of a candidate as a seconder.

Meanwhile, the ECP has directed the inspector general of Punjab police to take action against all involved in the unpleasant incident in Daska and submit a report to the commission by Feb 22. Two persons died and at least two others received injuries as clashes broke out between PTI and PML-N workers during by-election in Sialkot’s NA-75 constituency on Friday.

Published in Dawn, February 20th, 2021

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