By-polls for 37 NA seats postponed

The board outside the premises of the Election Commission of Pakistan. — ECP website/File

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan has suspended by-elections for 37 constituencies of the National Assembly.

The ECP issued four notifications on Sunday accordingly to which by-elections for 24 National Assembly seats in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, nine in Sindh, three in Islamabad and one in Balochistan have been postponed.

According to the ECP, the electoral process has been suspended on the orders of the Peshawar High Court, Islamabad High Court, Sindh High Court and Balochistan High Court this month on the basis of different petitions.

The by-elections were scheduled for March 16 and 19.

The constituencies include NA-241 Korangi Karachi-III, NA-242 Karachi East 1, NA 243 Karachi East-II, NA-244 Karachi East-II, NA-247 Karahci Sourth-II, NA-250 Karachi West-III, NA-254 Karachi West-V, NA-254 Karachi Central-II and NA-256 Karachi Central-IV.

The ECP has postponed the by-election in the NA-265 Quetta-II constituency by complying with the order of the Balochistan High Court (BHC) till further the court.

In pursuant to the order of the Islamabad High court (IHC), the ECP has postponed the by-polls on the three NA constituencies till further order of the court. The constituencies where by-polls are postponed include NA-52 Islamabad-1, NA53 Islamabad-II, and NA 54 Islamabad-III.

It is pertinent that the commission had issued the by-poll schedule for 33 NA and PA 31 seats, which had fallen vacant after the PTI legislators tendered resignations and these were accepted by the NA speaker, and the ECP duly de-notified these members afterwards.

The ECP is also meeting today (Monday) on a petition by PTI Chairman Imran Khan, which was filed through senior party member Babar Awan here for setting aside the imposition of Section 144 in Lahore barring holding of election rallies.

Another petition by a former PTI provincial minister Dr Yasmin Rashid has also been filed on the same matter.

“The chief election commissioner (CEC) has summoned an important meeting of the commission at 10:30 pm tomorrow [Monday] on the petitions of PTI’s Dr Babar Awan and Dr Yasmin Rashid regarding the imposition of Section 144 by the Punjab government and the ban on election rallies,” short a statement issued by the ECP here says.

On the instructions of former prime minister and PTI chairman, Babar Awan filed the petition in the ECP. The petition, a copy of which is available with The News, said that the commission should set aside the imposition of Section 144.

The caretaker Punjab government was violating the decision of the Supreme Court by imposing Section 144, it said, adding that the interim government/ CM/ cabinet wants to repeat same events even now and this high handedness may lead to ‘lego constitutional crisis’ and political instability.

“That the interim Punjab government in blatant violation of the ECP code of conduct and relevant orders, has directed DR Lahore to impose Section 144 in order to stop PTI rally in Lahore,” it said.

It was claimed that the interim Punjab government was trying to stop the rally by justifying the PSL match, whereas the routes of the PTI rally and the PSL match were different.

The petition also pointed out that PTI’s rally would end at 5:30pm while the PSL match would start at 7pm, adding that Section 144 was not imposed during PSL in any city.

After filing the petition here at the commission secretariat, Babar talked to the media and contended that the imposition of Section 144 in Lahore was a direct insult to the two courts.

He explained this is the same rally that was supposed to be taken out earlier but was stopped, adding that the Lahore High Court had lifted the ban.

He said that the ECP should fulfill its constitutional responsibilities.

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