PTI wants to see ECP in the dock over poll U-turn

Published March 24, 2023
PTI leaders address the media in Lahore. — Screengrab
PTI leaders address the media in Lahore. — Screengrab

• Petition to urge SC for Punjab polls on April 30; PTI nominees asked not to stop canvassing
• Fawad says party ready to sit with govt, calls on judiciary to protect Constitution

LAHORE: A day after elections in Punjab were postponed until October by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) decided to approach the Supreme Court against the ‘illegal’ decision and a petition in this regard will be filed today (Friday).

The decision to approach the top court was taken in a consultative meeting of the party’s senior leadership chaired by Imran Khan at his Zaman Park residence on Thursday.

In its plea, the former ruling party would request the top court to set aside the ECP’s decision to postpone elections in Punjab. The petition will also request that the elections be held on April 30 as announced by President Arif Alvi in light of the Supreme Court order.

Elaborating on the decisions taken during the meeting while addressing a press conference held at the party office, PTI Secretary General Asad Umar — flanked by party stalwarts Fawad Chaudhry and Ejaz Chaudhry — said that PTI senators would raise this issue during the joint session of parliament on Monday as well. The senators would attend the session and vociferously present PTI’s point of view against the government’s efforts to “violate” the Constitution of Pakistan, he said. “The party will use the forum of parliament at its fullest,” said the PTI leader.

Asad Umar said the meeting decided that the public rally at Minar-i-Pakistan would be held as per schedule on March 25. He added that the public gathering would start after Taraveh (around 10pm) and conclude around Sehri time (3am) on March 26.

According to the PTI leader, the gathering would also express solidarity with the Supreme Court for the protection of the Constitution. He hoped that people will turn up in massive numbers to mark this “historical moment”. “The PTI chairman has instructed that the rally preparations be sped up,” he added.

Mr Umar said the party chairman has asked the PTI candidates – who have submitted their nominations for elections – to continue their election campaigns in their respective constituencies.

“We have full confidence in our judiciary that the Constitution will be upheld and those trying to violate it will fail miserably,” he added. The secretary general said it was interesting to note that the ECP announced the decision of postponing elections only hours after this “wish” was floated in parliament by the ruling coalition.

Mr Umar added the PTI had already filed a contempt of court petition before the Supreme Court against Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Ghulam Ali for not accepting the court decision and giving the election date in contravention of court orders. “I think the KP governor wants to become a man that will be charged and punished under Article 6 for not implementing the Supreme Court orders,” he quipped.

‘Ready to sit with govt’

Speaking on the occasion, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said the Constitution was violated on Pakistan Day and claimed that 96 bar associations had denounced the ECP’s decision. He said the Supreme Court was attacked at the joint parliamentary session on Wednesday and the PML-N repeated its history of attacking the judiciary.

Mr Chaudhry said former Punjab chief minister Hamza Shehbaz was granted bail on Sunday without appearing before the court. “Mr Tarar was a man [of good character] before joining the PML-N”, he added. He welcomed the government’s decision to form a JIT and hoped the team would function independently.

Fawad Chaudhry said the PTI was ready to sit with the government for negotiations, adding that the government was up for anything but elections.

“Our workers are securing PTI chief Imran Khan’s residence at Zaman Park and we will lodge a case against Zaman Park’s ‘siege’ and the murder of Ali Bilal a.k.a. Zille Shah, Mr Chaudhry added.

The senior vice president said the election in Punjab was scheduled to be held on April 30 and added that the people and the Supreme Court needed to safeguard the Constitution. Stating that he knew that judges were being blackmailed and pressurised, the PTI leader urged the Supreme Court to protect the Constitution of Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, March 24th, 2023

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