Following Supreme Court’s order, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday issued a new schedule for holding presidential election on July 30, instead of the earlier set date of August 6.
However, the main opposition party PPP strongly criticised the verdict of the apex court.
In response to a petition filed by the ruling PML-N, a three member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Wednesday ordered the Election Commission to hold presidential elections on July 30, instead of August 6.
However, calling it a one-sided decision, PPP presidential candidate Raza Rabbani strongly criticised the verdict, saying the decision would deprive him of his right to campaign across Pakistan.
He said after the decision, his party could boycott the elections, but a final decision was yet to be taken.
Earlier, the government had requested the ECP to reschedule election date and fix July 30 instead of August 6, which would be falling in the last 10 days of Ramadan, reasoning that a number of parliamentarians would go to Saudi Arabia for performing Umra and many others would be observing Aitekaf.
However, the ECP had rejected the plea, saying it would be difficult for it to change an already announced schedule.
To this, PML-N senior leader Raja Zafarul Haq moved a petition in the Supreme Court, which was decided in the favour of the government on Wednesday.
Following the development, the ECP has re-fixed the date.
According to ECP’s notification, the presidential election would be held on July 30.
Per revised notification, the ECP fixed July 27 for the withdrawal of candidature before the Returning Officer in Islamabad. The same day, the ECP would issue a final list of contesting candidates.
The notification further said that polling would be held simultaneously at four provincial assembly buildings and Parliament House from 10am to 3pm on July 30.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, PPP presidential candidate Raza Rabbani said the court had passed the order without listening to all stakeholders.
Flanked by Amin Faheem and Aitzaz Ahsan, Raza Rabbani said the decision would badly disturb his election campaign, as he was now left with two days for campaigning, meaning he would not be able to travel to all four provincial capitals to convince the electorate.
Rabbani said it was strange that the ruling party got the election date changed on basis of Umra and Aitekaf, while the election process never stopped even during war.
He said even Pakistan came into being on 27th of Ramadan and founder of Pakistan did not ask for changing the date.
Earlier, on Wednesday, PML-N presidential candidate Mamnoon Husain and PPP candidate Raza Rabbani submitted nomination papers before the returning officer, the Islamabad High Court chief justice.
PML-N candidate Iqbal Zafar Jhagra also filed his nomination papers.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s candidate Justice (r) Wajihuddin Ahmed also submitted his nomination papers in Karachi.