ECP receives petitions for election postponement

election date

ISLAMABAD: Amid growing speculations casting doubt on the scheduled general polls on February 8, two distinct petitions advocating for the delay of elections have been submitted to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). This development comes a day before the commission is set to release the final delimitation lists.

According to a news report by Dawn, the petition was filed by individuals belonging to Balochistan who cited security concerns and snowfall in various districts as grounds for requesting the postponement of the elections.

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An ECP spokesperson countered the claims, asserting that the updated electoral rolls for the upcoming general polls are currently in the process of being printed at National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) offices. Furthermore, the transportation of these lists to different districts has already commenced.

One petition, lodged by Meena Majeed, a general councilor from Mand tehsil in Kech district through Advocate Fatima Nazar, emphasiSed heightened security issues in Balochistan. The petition highlighted a surge in terrorist activities in the Mekran division, including target killings, IED blasts, and women suicide bombings. The petitioner argued that these security challenges, particularly in districts like Kech and Gwadar, necessitated the postponement of elections.

The challenging geographical terrain of Balochistan, characterized by scattered populations in remote villages amidst mountains, was mentioned as a complicating factor. The petition stressed that this topography, coupled with inadequate road infrastructure and poor connectivity, posed a significant obstacle to implementing effective security measures and ensuring the feasibility of free and fair elections.

Meena Majeed urged the ECP to acknowledge the petition, delay polling in Kech, and announce a fresh, suitable schedule for elections within the district to allow the populace to exercise their constitutional right to vote.

The second petition, filed by Toor Gul Khan Jogezai from Kila Saifullah Khan district through Advocate Azizullah Kakakhel, highlighted the impact of heavy snowfall on several districts and divisions in the country during winters. According to the petition, holding elections in such areas would be impractical until May or the restoration of normal life due to displacement or limitations faced by residents.

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The petitioner argued that conducting elections in these areas could result in a loss of vote banks for candidates or voters losing their votes. Therefore, the petition called for the postponement of elections to a more suitable time, allowing citizens in these areas to participate in a free and fair election and elect representatives of their choice.

Notably, the ECP has already dismissed reports of election delay and the unpreparedness of electoral rolls. ECP spokesperson Haroon Shinwari deemed these reports as “absolutely baseless and misleading” and announced the commission’s decision to take legal action against those spreading such false information. He stated that the ECP would approach Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to initiate legal proceedings against individuals disseminating misleading news.

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