Currently, Pakistan is facing intense political turmoil over the postponement of Punjab and KP by polls as the PDM led government and its rival PTI continue to lock horns over the matter, triggering an intense legal proceeding at the Supreme Court.
The by-elections were initially scheduled for April 30th when President Arif Alvi announced the date for the Punjab polls after consulting the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). The development came after the Supreme Court, in a 3-2 verdict, said the elections for Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s dissolved assemblies must be conducted within 90 days.
The bench directed the KP governor to appoint a date for elections in the province after consulting the Election Commission of Pakistan. For Punjab, the SC directed President Dr Arif Alvi to consult with the ECP and try to hold elections in the province in 90 days.
However, despite the top court order, the ECP delayed the election in Punjab till Oct 8 – a decision welcomed by the incumbent government. The decision resulted in intense opposition from PTI as it accused the ECP of violating the constitution. PTI then challenged the decision in the SC.
Read more: Nation demands right to vote from CJP after election postponement
As per the latest developments, the ECP has announced that the general elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would be staged on October 8, on the same day as Punjab. ECP has consistently cited “security concerns” as the reason for delaying the polls. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also justified the electoral body’s move by saying that the decision has been taken keeping in view the resurgence of terrorism in the country.
Ever since the terror outfit TTP ended its ceasefire with Pakistan in November last year, the country has witnessed an alarming rise in terror attacks. On Thursday, a terrorist attack on a police station in Lakki Marwat, KP, martyred four policemen, including Deputy Superintendent (DSP) Iqbal Mohmand, and injured six other cops.
The terrorists launched an attack on the Saddar Police Station of Lakki Marwat which led to an intense exchange of fire between the police party and the terrorists. The terrorists fled after the attack and a search operation was launched to apprehend the militants.
لکی مروت میں عسکریت پسندوں کے حملے کے نتیجے میں ڈی ایس پی سمیت 4 پولیس اہلکاروں کی شہادت پر دل دکھی اور رنجیدہ ہے۔ دہشت گردی کے خلاف جنگ میں ہمارے پولیس افسران/جوانوں کی قربانیاں ناقابل فراموش ہیں۔اللہ تعالی شہداء کو اپنے جوار رحمت میں جگہ دے اور زخمیوں کو جلد صحت یابی عطا کرے۔
— Shehbaz Sharif (@CMShehbaz) March 30, 2023
While several terror attacks took place in Pakistan since November, the latest Lakki Marwat terror attack comes at a time when the case of the delay in polls is being heard by the Supreme Court where the ECP’s legal team has raised concern over the deteriorating law and order situation in KP.
The Constitution asserts that the election for National Assembly and provincial assemblies should take place within 60 days at the time of the expiry of their term but if assemblies are dissolved before their constitutional term by the prime minister and respective chief ministers, the election should be held within 90 days.
Read more: CJP offers to fund elections from judges’ salaries
However, the Lakki Marwat attack could give strong backing to ECP’s stance on delaying the polls due to the security threats. ECP’s legal team also backs its stance by quoting Article 17 of the Constitution which talks about peaceful elections. According to the Constitution, elections should be conducted in a transparent, peaceful, and conducive environment. On the other hand, the delay in polls has increased Pakistan’s political and economical instability.
لکی مروت دہشت گردوں کا حملہ قابل مذمت ہے۔ تحریک طالبان پاکستان نے ذمہ داری بھی قبول کرلی۔
اس حملہ کی ٹائمنگ الیکشن کمیشن کے وکیل کے موقف کو درست ثابت کرے گی کہ ملک میں دہشت گردوں کا راج ہے ؟
کیا دہشت گرد اور انتخابات کو موخر کرنے والی طاقتوں کے مفادات یکساں ہیں؟
سوال تو اٹھیں گے
— Raheeq Abbasi (@RaheeqAbbasi) March 30, 2023