LAHORE: Barrister Azhar Siddique, who serves as the chairman of the Judicial Activism Panel, has criticised the decision of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to postpone elections in Punjab on the flimsy pretext of the security situation in the country and the shortage of funds.
Azhar has written a letter to the tribunal, observing the decision to delay the elections is against the Constitution and the law, and is also in contempt of the Supreme Court judgment ordering elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa within 90 days.
The lawyer has argued that the ECP is obligated by the Constitution to hold clear and transparent elections, and the apex court has given a clear order in this regard. According to Azhar, postponing the election till October 8 is also a violation of the Constitution and the Election Act, 2017.
He has suggested that the ECP should withdraw its decision to postpone the election and complete arrangements to hold the election on April 30.
Azhar has warned that if the ECP does not withdraw its decision, a contempt of court petition will be filed in the higher courts.
The development came a day after the election authority announced the postponement of elections in the nation’s largest province which were scheduled for April 30.
Elections in Punjab will now be held on October 8 together with general elections in the country, it said in a late-night notification.
The Constitution requires that new elections be held within 90 days of the dissolution of any of the legislative assemblies, both central and provincial. The government, however, insisted on holding national and provincial elections simultaneously.
The government of Shehbaz Sharif has rejected the demand for an early election citing economic challenges the country faces including ongoing talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout.
The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), for its part, rejected the ECP decision, terming it “unjust and unconstitutional.”
— With Anadolu Agency