Elections in Punjab have been postponed, according to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), which may mean that elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa won’t take place before October 8.
Initially slated to take place on April 30, the poll was unexpectedly moved by the electoral commission on Wednesday to October 8. Experts believe that this decision means that the KP elections will now take place alongside those for other provincial legislatures and the National Assembly.
It has already been made known that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) will appeal the ECP ruling to the Supreme Court. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Haji Ghulam Ali had meetings with the Election Commission twice as required, but instead of announcing a date for the elections, he sent a detailed letter outlining the law and order, security, and financial status in the province, a senior ECP official said.
The governor announced that the province’s general election would take place on May 28. But, he did not publicly provide a date during his meeting at the ECP. Thereafter, he wrote to the commission and urged them to address a number of issues before holding elections.
While referring to the media reports and the governor’s letter, the official said that almost all the political parties might not be that much interested in the KP polls owing to the security situation, as the political stakeholders are in Punjab.
Following Punjab Governor Muhammad Baligh Ur Rehman’s refusal to participate in the process that resulted in the setting of the province’s election date, the president recommended two dates for the conduct of the vote: April 30 and May 7 (Sundays). The date of April 30 has been set by President Dr. Arif Alvi.
The commission issued an order to postpone the elections in the province, citing mostly security and law and order-related reasons, after receiving a number of briefings from the Ministries of Defense and Interior, senior military officials, intelligence agencies, the chief secretary of Punjab, and the inspector general of police. “We completed our task in regard to Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and we are unable to take further action.”
“We did not cancel elections but took the date forward under Section 58 of the Elections Act, 2017 and informed the president accordingly,” the senior official added.
Section 58 of the Act says, “Alteration in Election Programme: Notwithstanding anything contained in Section 57, the Commission may, at any time after the issue of the notification under sub-section (1) of that section, make such alterations in the Election Programme (EP) announced in that notification for different stages of the election or may issue a fresh EP as may, in its opinion to be recorded in writing, be necessary for the purposes of this Act: Provided that the Commission shall inform the President about any alteration in the EP made under this subsection”.