ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: The Islam­abad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday referred an application seeking creation of another seat of National Assembly for Hafizabad to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

In a separate matter also concerning Hafizabad, the Lahore High Court (LHC) issued notices to the ECP on two identical petitions challenging the new delimitation of as many constituencies — in Lahore and in Hafizabad.

In Islamabad, during the hearing of the petition filed by a resident of Hafizabad, IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq asked the ECP to decide the matter expeditiously.

Ahsan Bhoon, counsel for the petitioner, in his arguments said Hafizabad requires one more seat of National Assembly in addition to the existing one. He said population of Hafizabad district is 1.32 million, which is sufficient for the creation of an NA seat.

PML-N hopefuls also challenge delimitation of Lahore, Hafizabad constituencies; removal of ‘illegal immigrants’ from voter list sought

When the court inquired from ECP Director General Arshad Khan if the petitioner had objected to the delimitation of Hafizabad, the latter replied in the affirmative.

The official said the ECP had already examined this matter.

The court referred the matter to the ECP again with the direction for making an expeditious decision.

He observed that the ECP is empowered to take a decision, adding that it should be logical.

During the hearing, the chief justice also inquired from the ECP director general about the date for the announcement of elections schedule, to which he replied: “It will be announced soon.”

In Lahore, would-be candidates of PML-N from the constituencies of Lahore and Hafizabad in their petitions contended that the ECP had violated rules while carrying out delimitations.

They said the ECP had also dismissed their objections to the delimitation without even taking them into account.

They asked the court to set aside the delimitation of their constituencies and order the ECP to hold the process afresh strictly in accordance with law.

Justice Ali Baqar Najafi of the LHC directed the ECP to submit its replies to the petitions by Dec 8.

Voter scrutiny

In a related development, a petition was filed in the IHC seeking scrutiny of the registered voters.

The petition requested the court to exclude the immigrants who had illegally got themselves registered and obtained the Computerised National Identity Cards (CNIC).

It claimed that millions of illegal immigrants have obtained the CNICs illegally, saying they should be excluded from the voter list before the upcoming elections.

The petition also urged the court to stop the ECP from announcing the elections schedule till the removal of illegal immigrants from the voter list.

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2023

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