The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday postponed by-elections on 10 National Assembly seats — scheduled for September 11 and September 25 — citing the unavailability of security personnel in the wake of catastrophic floods across the country.
The NA seats were vacated after speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf had, on July 28, accepted the resignations of PTI MNAs — nine on general seats and two on reserved seats for women — sparking controversy over the piecemeal acceptance of resignations.
The lawmakers whose resignations were ratified were part of more than 120 who had resigned from their NA seats en masse on April 11, two days after former prime minister Imran Khan was ousted from the top office in a no-confidence vote.
Subsequently, the PTI chief announced that he would be the lone contender for all nine NA seats in a bid to set a record.
According to an ECP statement issued today, the by-elections for the constituencies of NA-157 Multan, NA-22 Mardan, NA-24 Charsadda, NA-31 Peshawar, NA-45 Kurram, NA-108 Faisalabad, NA-118 Nankana Sahib and Karachi's NA-237, NA-239, and NA-246 have been postponed.
Similarly, by-polls for the constituencies of Punjab Assembly's PP-139 Sheikhupura, PP-241 Bahawalnagar and PP-209 Khanewal have been delayed until further notice.
The decision was taken in an important meeting presided over by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja.
During the meeting, the election commission's secretary said that the recent floods have wreaked massive destruction in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh, damaging houses, buildings, schools, hospitals and highways.
The ECP statement noted that all the security agencies in the country, including the police, rangers and army, were busy in relief and rescue operations. "The ECP, on August 23, wrote a letter to the Interior Ministry seeking services of the Pakistan Army, rangers and constabulary to ensure peaceful elections but because of the national emergency, it hasn't been assured of the deployment."
Separately, it said that the security situation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had become critical in recent days due to an increase in attacks on the security forces.
"Hence, the election commission has decided to postpone polling in all the constituencies," the electoral body said, adding that the announcement for the new date of polling will be made once the security agencies were available.