ECP to contest LHC, BHC verdicts in SC

Islamabad Politics Report/Moazzam Raza Tabassam: The Election Commission of Pakistan has decided to contest Lahore and Balochistan High Court’s verdicts in the Supreme Court. Both the decisions had brought the holding of timely polls into question.

While briefing to the media after the commission’s emergency meeting on Saturday, ECP Additional Secretary Akhtar Nazeer said returning officers across the Pakistan have been asked to not accept any nomination paper on June 3 and 4. A new schedule would be released to the returning officers after Supreme Court gives its decision, the additional secretary added.

The currently schedule has a margin of extending it by two to three days, according to the official.

However, elections would be held on July 25, regardless, he added.

The emergency meeting, summoned by the ECP late Friday night, got under way earlier today to review the Lahore High Court’s annulment of changes in nomination papers and Balochistan High Court’s rejection of delimitation of eight constituencies in Quetta.

The session was chaired by Chief Election Commissioner Sardar Muhammad Raza.

Speaking to journalists ahead of the meeting, ECP Secretary Babar Yaqoob said the Commission had received the LHC verdict on the nomination forms.

He shared that the court has given several directives to the ECP about the matter. However, the ECP would decide whether to prepare new nomination forms or make changes to the previous ones, he added.

The secretary told journalists that the Commission has also received the orders regarding delimitation.

Criticising the LHC’s decision, outgoing National Assembly speaker Ayaz Sadiq announced he would also file an appeal to declare the decision null and void.

“The petition was filed in December, 2017 and the whole country knew that the National Assmebly’s tenure would end on May 31,” Sadiq said in Lahore.

“But when does the judgement arrive? It arrives when NA completes its tenure and the NA which would have decided had it gone to it was never given a chance to do so.”

“Secondly, the decision arrives after the election schedule was announced. What is the purpose and meaning of the decision coming after election schedule being announced?” he asked, adding that he was going to meet his lawyers to discuss the matter.

He said that the Senate elections happened with the same nomination papers in place and, to his knowledge, the Islamabad High Court recently rejected an identical petition last month. He added that the decision to simplify nomination papers had been taken by all parties in the parliament.

Sadiq said that he had been in contact with the PPP and is also trying to contact other political parties as the Elections Act was passed by consensus of all political parties.

He said that he would also appeal the courts to ensure elections are held according to the schedule announced by ECP, on July 25.

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