PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Tuesday directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to respond to a petition of the Awami National Party provincial president and candidate for the NA-24 Charsadda seat, Aimal Wali Khan, against the postponement of by-polls.

A bench consisting of Justice Lal Jan Khattak and Justice Shakeel Ahmad ordered the filing of the reply by Mr Aimal until Sept 16, the next date of hearing.

The petitioner was represented by members of the ANP lawyers’ wing, Malgaray Wakeelan, including PHC Bar Association president Rahmanullah Khan, Sangeen Khan, Shah Faisal and Rafique Mohmand.

The petitioner requested the court to declare illegal and void the Sept 8 ECP orders for the postponement of by-elections in 13 constituencies, including NA-24.

Petitioner Aimal Wali insists commission didn’t cite any valid reason for move

He requested the court to direct the chief election commissioner to hold polling in NA-24, Charsadda, on Sept 25, as earlier scheduled by the ECP.

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 PTI.

Advocate Rahmanullah Khan contended that the ECP had not cited any valid reason for postponing the by-polls. He said all institutions, including schools, colleges and government offices, were open and functioning, so the postponement of polls was unjustified.

The lawyer said the reason given for the postponement of by-polls were the devastation caused by flash floods.

Mr Rahmanullah contended that the ECP’s move was against the law and in violation of Article 224 of the Constitution, which declared that election for a National or provincial assembly seat would be held within 60 days of it falling vacant. He said the rehabilitation of flood victims had been completed in many areas, while the life had returned to normal as the schools, colleges, offices and businesses had reopened.

The lawyer said the ECP postponed by-polls without referring to the relevant rules.

The petitioner also contended that the scheduled elections were by-polls, so there was no need for the army personnel or other lawenforcement agencies to be requisitioned for security and the local police were capable enough to do the job.

ANP central leader and former federal minister Haji Ghulam Ahmad Bilour filed an identical petition a day ago. He is a candidate for NA-31 Peshawar seat.

Published in Dawn, September 14th, 2022

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