Mahmood Khan Achakzai pens letter to ECP seeking postponement of presidential elections

Published March 8, 2024
Mahmood Khan Achakzai, chairman of the Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami party, speaks to the media outside the Parliament House on Friday. — DawnNewsTV
Mahmood Khan Achakzai, chairman of the Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami party, speaks to the media outside the Parliament House on Friday. — DawnNewsTV

Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) Chairman Mahmood Khan Achakzai on Friday wrote a letter to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) seeking the postponement of the presidential elections — scheduled for tomorrow — on grounds of an “incomplete electoral college”.

The Pashtun nationalist leader from Balochistan is the nominee of Sunni Ittehad Council — the new home of the PTI — for the coveted post of the president. He will be contesting against Asif Ali Zardari, the joint candidate of the allied parties.

In a letter addressed to Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, stated that the electoral college prescribed for the election of the president under the law and Constitution was “incomplete”.

Citing that Achakzai was a candidate for the presidential poll, it highlighted that there were some reserved seats in the national and provincial assemblies which were vacant as no one was elected to them.

“[…] If the presidential election is conducted as per the schedule, that would be a denial of their votes, which otherwise is against the fundamental rights, law and Constitution,” the letter highlighted.

It pointed out that the completion of the electoral college was not possible unless members on reserved seats were elected.

“[…] A petition has also been filed by the SIC before the PHC on accounts of the reserved seats issue, and an injunctive order was passed by the honourable court and the petitioner is hopeful for a clear verdict in favour of the SIC.

“However the completion of the electoral college in the near future would not be insight and this infirmity would make the whole election illegal and unlawful,” the letter said.

Achakzai demanded that the presidential elections be delayed or postponed until the completion of the electoral college.

“Under the above circumstances, it is submitted that the proposed election […] is clearly impossible, therefore the same may kindly be postponed or delayed till completion of electoral college accordingly in the best interest of justice, fair play, and equity,” the letter concluded.

Separately, speaking to the media outside the Parliament House today, Achakzai reiterated his demand for the postponement of presidential elections and called for the formation of a parliamentary committee to resolve the PTI’s grievances regarding the February 8 general elections and allocation of seats.

He said the committee should be headed by senior lawmakers such as JUI-F’s Fazlur Rehman, PPP’s Raza Rabbani and PML-N’s Mushahid Hussain.

Reserved seats

The reserved seats that Achakzai’s letter refers to were those that the SIC argues should be allocated to the party.

The SIC was joined by PTI-backed lawmakers after winning elections sans their poll symbol, and the council had written to the ECP seeking allocation of reserved seats in the national as well as three provincial assemblies, excluding Balochistan.

The ECP, however, did not consider the plea till applications piled up opposing the allocation of SIC’s quota on the grounds that it was not a parliamentary party and had not submitted a priority list of candidates for the reserved seats.

After hearing arguments from all sides, the commission reserved its verdict last week, a day before the maiden session of the National Assembly. However, in a 4-1 majority verdict earlier this week, the ECP rejected the SIC’s plea seeking the allocation of reserved women and minority seats.

“SIC is not entitled to claim quota for reserved seats due to having non-curable legal defects and violation of a mandatory provision of submission of party list for reserved seats which is the requirement of law,” the ECP had ruled.

Subsequently, the SIC approached the Peshawar High Court challenging the ECP’s decision. On Wednesday, the PHC barred the oath-taking of the beneficiaries that were given the National Assembly reserved seats the SIC claims should have been allocated to it.

Yesterday, a larger PHC bench once again deferred the oath-taking of nine women lawmakers till March 13, who had been awarded the reserved seats claimed by the SIC.

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