ECP reschedules Daska re-election to April 10 on Punjab govt's request

Published March 10, 2021
In this Feb 8 file photo, PTI's Ali Asjad Malhi is seen canvassing ahead of the NA-75 (Daska) constituency by-poll on Feb 19. — Photo courtesy: Ali Asjad Malhi Facebook
In this Feb 8 file photo, PTI's Ali Asjad Malhi is seen canvassing ahead of the NA-75 (Daska) constituency by-poll on Feb 19. — Photo courtesy: Ali Asjad Malhi Facebook

The Election Commission of Pakistan on Wednesday changed the date of the re-election in NA-75 (Daska) constituency from March 18 to April 10 after the Punjab government sought time to fill the vacant positions of administrative officers in the region where the polls will be held.

The ECP had last month voided the by-election held in NA-75 on February 19 — which was marred by deadly clashes between workers of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and PML-N, the mysterious disappearance of around 20 presiding officers and suspected tampering with results — and ordered re-polling in the entire constituency on March 18.

The commission had also ordered the transfer of the Gujranwala Division commissioner and suspension of the Sialkot deputy commissioner as well as other senior administrative and police officers.

A statement issued by the ECP on Wednesday said it had changed the date of polling to "make the holding of elections transparent and make administrative affairs fool-proof".

It said the Government of Punjab had drawn the commission's attention to the fact that the officers newly appointed after the suspension and transfers of all district and divisional officers "require some time to understand and fully control the administrative situation".

"After deliberation, the ECP issued the directions that the Punjab government immediately appoint administrative officers on vacant positions on a permanent basis and decided that polling in NA-75 (Daska) Sialkot will now be held on Saturday, April 10, 2021," the press release added.

A day after the Feb 19 by-poll, the ECP had said it suspected the results of 20 polling stations had been falsified as the PML-N alleged massive rigging. The commission said results from the said polling stations were received with "unnecessary delay", adding that it tried to contact the presiding officers several times but with no success.

The ECP had stopped the district returning officer (DRO) and returning officer (RO) from announcing the initial results for the by-election and directed them to conduct a complete inquiry and identify those responsible for the mismanagement.

On Feb 25, a five-member bench, headed by the chief election commissioner, ordered that fresh elections be held in Daska on March 18. The decision was announ­ced on a petition filed by PML-N candidate in the constituency Nousheen Iftikhar.

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