News Analysis |
The Lahore High Court has reserved its Judgement on the deferral petition filed by Awami League Chief Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed, in wake of the postponement of polls in NA-60, Rawalpindi. The NA-60 polls had been postponed after the Pakistan Muslim League veteran Hanif Abbasi had been sentenced to life imprisonment in the so-dubbed Ephidrene case on Saturday evening.
This had given a walk over success to the AML Chief who had been Abbasi’s primary rival from the constituency NA-60 for the upcoming General polls. Rashid on Monday had reached the LHC’s Rawalpindi registry to petition against the ECP’s decision.
Multiple protests erupted across Rawalpindi against the verdict. Social media users appreciated the verdict while a different school of thought criticized the timing that had won PTI’s ally a seat without a competition.
Soon after Rashid approached the SC, his case was set for hearing to the LHC, which has now reserved its judgment on the matter after hearing his arguments. The ECP, as well as the lawyer for another candidate from NA-60, Rashid Gardezi, had opposed Rashid’s petition. Gardezi’s lawyer had asked what would happen if the elections were given a go-ahead and Abbasi received “hundreds of thousands of votes” in defiance of his disqualification.
LHC Justice Mujahid Mustaqeem inquired about the possibility of printing new ballot papers, at which the ECP’s lawyer said that it would take a lot of time to print new ballot papers for the 700,000 voters residing in the constituency. He further stated that all possibilities had been taken into consideration by the ECP before reaching the decision of postponing the election. His stance was that the election can only be postponed by a returning officer (RO) if one of the candidates passes away. His petition stated that the ECP had no right to postpone the election for any other reason.
The NA-60 polls had been postponed after the Pakistan Muslim League veteran Hanif Abbasi had been sentenced to life imprisonment in the so-dubbed Ephidrene case on Saturday evening.
The verdict for Abbasi’s imprisonment was handed out by the Anti-narcotics Court, Rawalpindi after a 7-year long proceeding. The verdict was earlier supposed to come out in late August, but the turn of events triggered a public debate as to the timing of the verdict. Hanif Abbasi’s life imprisonment disqualified him from the elections and the PML-N is out of time to replace Mr. Abbasi with another candidate.
As the verdict was handed out, PML-N supporters wreaked havoc in the courtroom, throwing chairs and shattering windows. Multiple protests erupted across Rawalpindi against the verdict. Social media users appreciated the verdict while a different school of thought criticized the timing that had won PTI’s ally a seat without a competition.
The Election Commission on Pakistan had decided on Sunday, the 22nd of July, to postpone polls in NA-60 and conduct them with the postponed polls later this year. As the ECP is “bound to provide a level playing field to all candidates, the general election in NA-60 is postponed and will be conducted after the scheduled general elections, along with other postponed elections,” the commission had said in a statement.