By-polls to 37 NA seats halted: ECP scuttles to comply with high courts’ order

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Sunday announced suspension of the schedule for by-elections to 37 National Assembly (NA) seats in compliance with the orders of the Islamabad, Peshawar, Sindh and Balochistan high courts.

These National Assembly seats had fallen vacant after the resignations of PTI lawmakers.

The Election Commission of Pakistan, on Jan 27, had announced by-elections to 33 National Assembly seats on March 16 while on February 3, the commission announced by-elections to another 31 NA seats after the NA speaker accepted more resignations of the PTI MNAs.

But earlier this month, the high courts of Peshawar, Sindh and Balochistan had suspended by-elections in their respective provinces while the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had suspended the de-notification of three PTI MNAs from the capital territory.

In four separate notifications issued on Sunday, the electoral watchdog said that until further orders from the respective courts, the by-elections schedule for one NA seat in Balochistan, three in Islamabad, nine in Sindh and 24 in KP is being suspended.

This includes the following constituencies: NA-02 Swat-I; NA-03 Swat-II; NA-04 Swat-III; NA-05 Upper; Dir-I; NA-06 Lower Dir-I; NA-07 Lower Dir-II; NA-08 Malakand Protected Area, NA-09 Buner; NA-16 Abbottabad-II; NA-17 Haripur-I; NA-18 Swabi-I; NA-19 Swabi-II; NA-20 Mardan-I; NA-25 Nowshera-I; NA-26 Nowshera-II; NA-28 Peshawar-II; NA-30 Peshawar-IV; NA-32 Kohat; NA-34 Karak; NA-38 D I Khan-I; NA-40 Bajaur-I; NA-42 Mohmand; NA-43 Khyber-I; NA-44 Khyber-II; NA-52 Islamabad-I; NA-53 Islamabad-II; NA-54 Islamabad-III; NA-241 Korangi Karachi-III; NA-242 Karachi East-I; NA-243 Karachi East-II; NA-244 Karachi East-III; NA-247 Karachi South-II; NA-250 Karachi West-III; NA-252 Karachi West-V; NA-254 Karachi Central-II; NA-256 Karachi Central-IV and NA-265 Quetta-II.

PTI resignations and high courts’ orders

The National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf, after stalling the process for eight months, swiftly moved to accept the resignations of PTI lawmakers, pending since April 2022, in an apparent bid to scuttle the opposition’s purported plan to bring a confidence motion against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

The NA speaker accepted the resignations of 34 PTI MNAs on Jan 17 and 35 MNAs on Jan 20, including Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid. On Jan 25, the ECP de-notified 43 more PTI lawmakers after Ashraf accepted their resignations, following with the PTI had approached the courts.

On March 1, the Islamabad High Court had suspended the de-notification of three PTI lawmakers — Asad Umar, Ali Nawaz Awan and Raja Khurram Shehzad besides seeking replies from the ECP and NA speaker.

A day later, the Balochistan High Court stopped the ECP from holding by-election to NA-265, Quetta and suspended the ECP’s de-notification of PTI leader Qasim Suri.

On March 3, the Peshawar High Court suspended the notification for by-elections to 24 NA seats in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Earlier this week, the Sindh High Court restrained the ECP from holding by-elections on nine NA seats and suspended the commission’s notification in this regard till April 25.

‘Election facilitation centers for transparency’

Meanwhile, the Punjab Election Commissioner has established facilitation centers at provincial and district levels to help voters, candidates, and returning officers in the province.

According to the spokesperson for the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), these centers, located in the offices of the District Election Commissioner will offer guidance, information, and complaint-filing services related to the electoral process, enhancing transparency and accessibility.

With these centers in place, people can seek reliable information and redressal of their grievances related to the electoral process, ensuring fair and impartial elections in the province.



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