• Commission to meet with governor, will review arrangements for elections in Punjab
• PTI challenges ban on rallies in Lahore; CEC, ECP contempt cases to be taken up today

ISLAMABAD: The Election Com­mission of Pakistan (ECP) will hold three meetings today (Tues­day) to decide the fate of general polls to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Assembly and finalise preparation for polls to the Punjab Assembly.

The first meeting will be held with KP Governor Haji Ghulam Ali for a consultation about the date of elections to the provincial assembly.

According to sources, Mr Ali is likely to skip the meeting.

An official told Dawn that the KP governor, who had expressed his desire to come to the ECP last week, was formally invited on March 14 but he had not confirmed his arrival yet.

The second meeting will be held to review arrangements for polls in Punjab scheduled for April 30. The meeting will be attended by the Punjab caretaker chief minister, Mohsin Naqvi, the chief secretary and the police chief.

The top provincial officials are expected to paint a grim picture of the law and order situation and cite terror threats to make a case for putting off the polls, sources said.

The third meeting will be held to finalise whether the armed forces will be available for election duties or not.

The meeting will be attended by representatives of the Ministry of Defence and the Directorate General of Military Operations. The meeting will discuss the deployment of troops for the polls.

Separately, the ECP on Monday considered PTI’s plea against the imposition of Section 144, banning all rallies in Lahore, from the day the schedule for general polls to the assembly was announced.

According to the ECP’s media wing, the commission considered the petition filed by senior party leader Babar Awan a day earlier on behalf of PTI Chairman Imran Khan.

The ECP asked the Punjab chief secretary to submit a report on the matter today (Tuesday).

The letter stated that the commission was bound to conduct transparent and peaceful elections under the Constitution.

The PTI had challenged the imposition of Section 144 in Lahore and alleged the caretaker provincial government resorted to this step to bar the party from holding the election rally.

While talking to Dawn, an ECP official said holding of rallies after the announcement of the poll schedule was the right of all political parties including the PTI.

Also on Tuesday, the commission will resume the hearing of the contempt of the ECP and the chief election commissioner cases.

Last week, it issued bailable arrest warrants for Mr Khan and PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry in the case which were suspended by Lahore High Court.

Last year, the commission had issued notices of contempt to Mr Khan, Mr Chaudhry and Asad Umar for using intemperate, unparliamentary and contemptuous remarks against the ECP, while two separate notices were issued to the PTI chairman and Mr Chaudhry for allegedly indulging in the contempt of the chief election commissioner.

The commission also delisted a case, previously fixed for hearing on March 14, regarding the intra-party election in the PML-N. According to the cause list issued for the day, no reason has been given for delisting the case, which has been done by the order of the authority.

Published in Dawn, March 14th, 2023

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