KARACHI: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf on Saturday filed a petition in the Sindh High Court challenging a notification of the Election Commission of Pakistan to postpone the second phase of local government elections earlier scheduled for July 24 in Sindh.

Senior PTI leader Ashraf Jabbar Qureshi, through his lawyer, moved the SHC stating that the ECP in connivance with the Pakistan Peoples Party and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan was delaying the LG elections with mala fide intentions as they were afraid of the PTI’s popularity.

The petitioner submitted that he was a candidate of the PTI for the post a union committee chairman in district Central and a few days before the polling day, provincial election commissioner had sent a letter to the ECP secretary to postpone the July 24 LG polls on account of forecasted thunderstorm and torrential rains in Karachi and Hyderabad.

Thereafter, he stated that the ECP issued a notification on July 20, postponing the second phase of the LG elections and fixed Aug 28 as the new date for polling.

He contended that ECP’s move to delay polls was also made in violation of the June 24 judgement of the SHC.

He maintained that a division bench of SHC had dismissed the petitions of the PTI and MQM-P seeking postponement of the LG election on June 24 and ruled that no case for staying the elections was made out by the petitioners.

He argued that during hearing the ECP had submitted that around 27,000 candidates were contesting and 30 million ballot papers had been printed and around Rs500 million spent and thus, polls could not be stayed.

Citing the ECP and Sindh chief secretary as respondents, the petitioner stated that if the upcoming elections were postponed due to weather forecast, the same should have been postponed for a week instead of more than a month, which will not only cause potential loss to the ECP for millions it had already spent but candidates are also facing huge losses as they invested their hard-earned money in contesting elections.

He submitted that the LG elections were already being held after an inordinate delay as the ECP was bound to hold elections within 120 days while the four-year tenure of the last elected local governments in Sindh had expired on Aug 30, 2020 and the delay in holding LG elections would prejudice the whole process.

The petitioner alleged that postponement was made to rig the LG elections and commit electoral fraud as there was no information where and under whose supervision printed ballot papers were being kept.

He pleaded to declare the impugned notification of the ECP illegal and sought directive for respondents to announce schedule of the LG elections by the end of this month or first week of August.

The petitioner also sought order for respondents to hand over the ballot papers to the court nazir or any person authorised by the court.

Published in Dawn, July 24th, 2022

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