ISLAMABAD: With rumour mills continuously churning to create doubts about conduct of general polls on February 8, two separate petitions seeking the postponement of elections landed before the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), a day before the commission is slated to publish final delimitation lists.

The petitions, filed by individuals hailing from Balochistan, cited security issues and snowfall in several districts as reasons to seek the postponement of elections.

However, according to an ECP spokesman, the printing of updated electoral rolls for the upcoming general polls is already underway at Nadra offices, while the transportation of the lists to different districts has been started.

One of the petitions filed by Meena Majeed, a general councillor from Mand tehsil of Kech district through Advocate Fatima Nazar, stated Balochistan was grappling with heightened security concerns.

“Specifically, the Mek­ran division has witnessed a surge in terrorist activities, ranging from target killings of innocent daily wage earners to alarming incidents such as IED blasts and women suicide bombing,” it stated. The impact was most pronounced in districts such as Kech and Gwadar, where 61 acts of terrorism during the last three months alone claimed 32 lives, it read.

According to the plea, the challenging geographical terrain of Balochistan, characterised by scattered populations residing in far flung villages amidst mountains adds to the complexity.

“This topography coupled with inadequate road infrastructure and poor connectivity presents a formidable obstacle to implementing effective security measures and ensuring the feasibility of free and fair elections”, it added.

The petitioner urged the ECP to accept the instant petition, postpone polling in Kech and announce fresh suitable and appropriate schedule for election within district Kech, enabling the populous to exercise their constitutional right of casting vote, in the interest of justice.

Snowfall in several divisions

The other petition, filed by Toor Gul Khan Jogezai from district Kila Saifullah Khan through Advocate Azizullah Kakakhel, pointed out that many districts even divisions in the country face heavy snowfall in winters which effect the daily routine of residents.

As a result, election could not be held in such areas, since the inhabitants of these areas were either displaced or limited, until the month of May or restoration of normal life.

It stated if elections were held in such areas, it was feared that the provincial or national assembly candidates would either lose their vote bank or voters would lose their votes in favour of their candidates as the case may be. Hence, it is need of the time that the election be postponed to any other suitable time through which the citizen of such area could participate in free and fair election and elect representatives according to their choice for constituency, the petition read.

‘Baseless and misleading news’

Interestingly, the ECP has already rejected the reports of delay in general elections, non-preparation of electoral rolls and decided to take legal action against those spreading “misleading” news.

ECP spokesperson Haroon Shinwari said the news of delay in elections in media circles was “absolutely baseless and misleading”, and that the news of non-preparation of electoral rolls was false.

“The Election Commission has decided to approach Pemra against those spreading such false news so that legal action can be taken against those spreading such misleading news,” he maintained.

Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2023

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