ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has decided to move the court against the passage of a bill in parliament increasing the number of union councils in Islamabad from 101 to 125, a move which would result in a delay of local bodies polls in the federal capital.
The decision was taken during a high-level meeting chaired by Central Secretary General Asad Umar. In the meeting, the former ruling party decided to approach the court and instructed its legal team to prepare a constitutional petition in this regard.
The PTI said the plan to thwart the attempts of the federal government to escape from local government elections was finalised. The party also discussed measures to stop the “imported government’s attempt to use the parliament undemocratically” for the delay in the polls.
Meanwhile, Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Aamer Farooq on Thursday clubbed petitions filed by PTI and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), and Jamaat-i-Islami pertaining to local government elections in Islamabad scheduled to be held on Dec 31.
Justice Farooq issued notices to the Election Commission of Pakistan and the federal government on the petition filed by PTI leader Ali Awan and a PML-N candidate contesting from UC-Tarlai.
PTI’s Awan is seeking contempt proceedings against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his cabinet for increasing the number of union councils from 101 to 125 and introducing direct election for the post of Islamabad’s mayor. It may be noted that the ECP had rejected these amendments, which were brought at a time when the local government elections were just round the corner.
The PML-N nominee, however, challenged the ECP’s decision of conducting the elections as per schedule on Dec 31. Meanwhile, JI, in its petition, requested that polls be held as per the announced schedule.
During the course of the hearing, Attorney General (AG) Ashtar Ausaf Ali and Islamabad Advocate General Jahangir Khan Jadoon appeared before the court.
Mr Awan’s counsel argued that the government had increased the number of UCs from 50 to 101 about five months ago. He said that the federal government once again increased the number of UCs from 101 to 125 days before the elections day.
AG Ali informed the court that the petitioner did not challenge the notification of the increase in UCs. Justice Farooq inquired from the ECP director general if the commission was aware of the said development. The DG replied that the ECP perused the said notification and passed an appropriate order. He said that the ECP declared that the local government elections in Islamabad would be held as per schedule.
Justice Farooq asked the PTI counsel if the election watchdog was conducting elections as per schedule then how could there be grounds for contempt proceedings in the case. Mr Awan told the court that the government was going to legislate on the matter through parliament.
Published in Dawn, December 23rd, 2022