Lahore, Mar 22 (PTI): Pakistan’s electoral watchdog on Wednesday postponed election in the Punjab province — originally scheduled for April 30 to October 8 — citing an abysmal law and order situation in the country.
The assemblies in Punjab and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces were dissolved on January 14 and 18 respectively by the erstwhile governments of Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.
In its order, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) said that it “hereby withdraws the election programme and fresh schedule will be issued in due course of time with poll date on October 8.” The ECP said the decision was taken after briefing of the government and different departments and intelligence agencies informed that “the law and order situation in the country don’t permit to hold elections at any province at this point of time.” On March 1, Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled that elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces should be held within 90 days of the dissolution of the assemblies, as stipulated by the Constitution.
In the letter to President Dr Arif Alvi, the ECP proposed April 30 as the date for elections in Punjab.
Meanwhile, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor Ali fixed May 28 as the date for polls in the province but subsequently backtracked on his decision while calling for “key challenges” to be addressed before a new date is announced.
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Wednesday said there were differing opinions on conducting elections, and parliament needed guidance from the government and other institutions in this regard.
“Regarding the 90-day limit in the Constitution, I mentioned that April 30 is beyond that timeframe but have elections not been held after 90 or 60 days in the past?” Sanaullah asked.
Khan, 70, who came to power in 2018, is the only Pakistani Prime Minister to be ousted in a no-confidence vote in Parliament in April 2022.
Since his ouster, he has stepped up the ante on the ruling coalition to announce snap polls. PTI MZ VM VM
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