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ECP to move Pemra over ‘polls delay propaganda’

Mumtaz Alvi
Thursday, Nov 30, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Wednesday rejected media reports claiming delay in elections and non-preparation of electoral rolls and decided to take legal action against those spreading such rumours.

In a statement, the ECP spokesperson said the news of any delay in elections in media circles was absolutely baseless and misleading and reports related to non-preparation of electoral rolls were absolutely false.

“The Election Commission has decided to approach Pemra against those spreading such false news so that legal action can be taken against them,” he maintained.

In this regard, he explained, the ECP had sought transcripts and recordings of news broadcast on various channels for further action.

Meanwhile, the ECP announced that the transportation of final (updated) electoral rolls to different districts for the February 8 general elections had started.

According to an ECP spokesperson, the printing of updated electoral rolls is underway at the National Database and Registration Authority, and transportation of the same to various districts has begun. The ECP is set to publish the final list of delimitation of constituencies today (November 30).

Meanwhile, two petitions have been filed in the electoral body for postponement of elections. Interestingly, they have been filed by individuals hailing from Balochistan. One of them has been filed by Ms Meena, general councilor (UC-57) of Tehsil Mand, district Kech, drawing ECP’s attention towards the prevailing heightened security concerns in the province. The petitioner pointed out that adding to the complexity is the geographical terrain of Balochistan coupled with inadequate road infrastructure presents a formidable obstacle to implementing effective security measures and ensuring feasibility of free and fair elections.

She also referred to Makran Division which, according to her, has witnessed a surge in terrorist activities, ranging from target killings of innocent daily wagers to alarming incidents like IED blasts and women suicide bombings. The districts of Kech and Gwadar have witnessed 61 terrorist incidents resulting in the tragic loss of 32 lives in the last three months alone.

This has generated fear impacting the willingness of the populace to participate in the electoral process and raises concerns about achieving an optimal voter turnout.

“It is, therefore, prayed that on acceptance of the instant petition, the polling day which is scheduled to be held on 08.02.2024 may graciously be postponed to the extent of District Kech and to announce fresh suitable & appropriate schedule for election within district Kech, enabling the population to exercise their constitutional right of casting vote, in the interest of justice,” the petition read.

Similarly, the second petition has been filed by Toor Gul Khan Jogezai from district Killa Saifullah Khan who referred to the harsh weather conditions and pointed out that many districts, even divisions of the country, face heavy snowfall which affects daily life. Against this backdrop, Jogezai pleaded the election cannot be held in such areas, as their inhabitants were either displaced or limited till at least May when normal life is restored.

He prayed that in case of elections, there was a great concern that either the provincial or National Assembly candidates would lose their vote bank or the voters would lose their votes in favour of their own candidates, calling to postpone elections to any other suitable time through which the citizens of such area can elect representatives.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Balochistan General Secretary Salar Khan Kakar, has claimed to have exposed PMLN’s attempt to postpone the general elections.

In a video message, he alleged Meena Majeed attended a meeting with Jam Kamal on November 15 on the occasion of Nawaz Sharif’s arrival in Quetta. He claimed that the PMLN had clearly seen its defeat and wanted to run away from elections. He requested the chief justice to take notice of this petition and ensure that general elections are held on February 8 across Pakistan. In another development, the ECP has declined to accord approval to 875 development schemes of the caretaker Punjab government, and only one scheme with regard to a new graveyard at the cost of Rs10 million was given go-ahead.