ECP postpones Punjab elections
March 23, 2023 10:51 AM
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Wednesday postponed the general elections in Punjab province citing security concerns, reported 24newsHD TV channel.
The ECP has issued a notification in this regard detailing the reasons behind the postponement of the elections.
The ECP has issued October 8 as the new date for holding the general elections in Punjab.
In the order, a copy of which is available with 24newshd.tv, the ECP said that in exercise of the powers conferred upon it by Article 218(3) read with Section 58 and Section 8(c) of the Elections Act, 2017, the commission “hereby withdraws the election programme […] and fresh schedule will be issued in due course of time with poll date on October 8”.
On March 1, the Supreme Court had ruled that the elections to the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies should be held within the stipulated period of 90 days. It had, however, allowed the ECP to propose a poll date that deviates from the 90-day deadline by the “barest minimum”, in case of any practical difficulty.
On Mar 10, the ECP later wrote separate letters to the president and the KP governor. In the letter to President Dr Arif Alvi, the electoral watchdog proposed dates between April 30 and May 7 for the elections. Alvi later the same day announced that elections in Punjab will be held on April 30.
Last week, the ECP was informed that the Pakistan Army will not be available for poll-related duties due to the prevalent security situation within the country and on the borders.
Referring to the above briefing and other various briefings from government departments on the overall security situation in the country, the ECP order said that currently, only one security personnel on average was available per polling station due to a “massive shortfall in police personnel” and the non-provision of army personnel as a static force.
“The commission is unable to make alternate arrangements to ensure security of the election material, polling staff, voters and the candidates,” the order reads.
It added that the finance ministry had also shown an “inability to release funds due to financial crunch and unprecedented economic crisis in the country”.
The order pointed out that despite the ECP’s best efforts, the executive authorities and federal and provincial governments were not able to assist the electoral body in conducting free, fair and transparent elections in Punjab.
It added that after the briefings from the law enforcement agencies and federal ministries, the ECP had convened meetings on March 20, 21 and 22 to “deliberate extensive” on the matter of the Punjab elections.
“The commission after considering the reports, briefing and material brought before it, has arrived at the just conclusion that it is not possible to hold and organise the elections honestly, justly, fairly in a peaceful manner and in accordance with the Constitution and the law,” the order reads.