ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Sunday postponed polls in NA-60, Rawalpindi constituency following Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Hanif Abbasi’s life sentence.
“The polling schedule for NA-60 will be issued later,” the ECP said.
Abbasi was sentenced by a special anti-narcotics court in the ephedrine quota case late on Saturday night, a mere four days before the general election. He was taken into custody directly from the courtroom after his indictment.
Earlier today, scores of PML-N workers staged a protest led by Senator Chaudhry Tanvir and Sardar Naseem at 6th Road in Rawalpindi against Abbasi’s life sentence.
Addressing a press conference, Senator Tanvir said, “We reject the court verdict against Abbasi. We are going to file a petition requesting a delay in polls in NA-60, Rawalpindi constituency from which Abbasi was contesting the upcoming election,” he added.
The PML-N leader further announced that they will stage a protest on a daily basis outside Abbasi’s office.
Abbasi, who was contesting the upcoming election from NA-60 Rawalpindi, was accused of misusing 500kg of the controlled chemical ephedrine, which he obtained for his company, Gray Pharmaceutical, in 2010.
The court, in its verdict announced after six years, ruled that 363kg of ephedrine quota could be accounted for, adding that Abbasi failed to provide evidence of utilising the remaining quantity of the controlled drug.
The court acquitted seven other accused in the case, giving them the benefit of doubt.
Reacting to the news, Sheikh Rasheed called the ECP’s decision unconstitutional and said that if things were done this way then elections should also have been delayed when Captain Safdar was sent to jail.
“I have spent too much money on the elections. I am a Sheikh and I can’t even sleep at night now,” he said.
Separately, 11 union council (UC) chairmen lent support to the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) candidate in the NA-60 constituency following Abbasi’s disqualification.
The chairmen of union councils 21, 22, 23, 24, 70, 71, 72, 73, 75 and 76 announced they will be supporting PPP’s Mukhtar Abbas in the July 25 polls. “No matter what PML-N decides, we will support PPP’s candidate,” UC chairman Waqar Dar said. He said that they would make a formal announcement regarding the matter.
“We also appeal to the PML-N to support the PPP’s candidate,” he added.
A former member national assembly (MNA) from Rawalpindi, Abbasi was expected to have a tough electoral contest on July 25 with Sheikh Rasheed — who is allied with the PML-N’s arch-rival, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).