PESHAWAR: Awami National Party provincial president and candidate for the NA-24 Charsadda seat, Aimal Wali Khan, on Saturday moved the Peshawar High Court against the postponement of by-polls insisting that the Election Commission of Pakistan didn’t cite a valid reason for the move.
In the petition, Mr Wali requested the court to declare illegal and null and void the Sept 8 ECP orders for the postponement of by-elections in 13 constituencies, including NA-24, Charsadda.
He requested the court to direct the respondents, including the chief election commissioner, to hold polling in NA-24, Charsadda-II, on Sept 25, as earlier scheduled by the ECP.
The petition was filed through a panel of lawyers, including ANP MPA Khushdil Khan and PHC Bar Association president Rehmanullah Khan.
Aimal insists ECP didn’t give valid reason for move
The petitioner is the joint candidate of the Pakistan Democratic Movement in the constituency, where former prime minister and PTI chief Imran Khan is also contesting by-election.
The seat fell vacant after the National Assembly speaker accepted the resignation of the then MNA, Fazal Mohammad Khan of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf.
The petitioner said he was a contesting candidate and to his utmost surprise a press release was issued on Sep 8 by the chief election commissioner (CEC) through which by-polls were postponed in 13 constituencies, including NA-24 Charsadda.
He said the reason given for the postponement of by-polls were the devastation caused by flash floods in different constituencies, where the personnel of Pakistan Army and other law-enforcement agencies were busy with rehabilitation work.
Mr Aimal contended that the ECP’s move was against the law and in violation of Article 224 of the Constitution, which declared that a general election to the National Assembly or a provincial assembly would be held within 60 days of the seat falling vacant.
The petitioner claimed that in many areas the rehabilitation process of flood victims had been completed and the people were back to their normal routine including schools, colleges, offices and other businesses had been started.
He said his constituency was also affected by flood but the people had resumed normal life, so the postponement of by-elections there was not only illegal but would also deprive him of the right to contest polls.
Mr Aimal contended that the scheduled elections were by-polls and not general elections, which meant that election was held in a single constituency and not the entire country or province and therefore, there was no need of the army personnel or other law enforcing agencies to be requisitioned for security purpose and the local police were enough to provide protection in a single constituency.
He contended that the ECP postponed by-polls without mentioning any rules.
The petitioner pointed out that during the last general elections, there was a serious law and order situation due to terrorist attacks but even then, the polls were not postponed and were carried out transparently and fairly, so the postponement of polls in a few constituencies in the current situation was illegal and unlawful.
The respondents in the petition are the chief election commissioner of Pakistan, Provincial Election Commission Khyber Pakhtunkhwa through its secretary, Charsadda district election commissioner, Charsadda regional election commissioner, and Charsadda additional deputy commissioner.
Published in Dawn, September 11th, 2022