The jurisdiction of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) has been challenged in the Supreme Court, ten days ahead of the general election.
The election commission is preparing electoral lists for twelve non-territorial seats of the AJK’s legislative assembly in clear violation of Articles of 218 and 219, stated the petition. Candidates from across Pakistan may contest these seats.
Javed Akhtar, a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz candidate for the upcoming general election in AJK filed the petition under Article 184(3) of the Constitution. His counsels, Naseer Bhutta and MM Rafique Rajawana contended that the ECP does not have the mandate to conduct elections in AJK under Articles 218 and 219 of the Constitution.
The petitioner pleaded that the ECP is bound to respect the limitations defined in the constitution and not to entertain any request from any authority which is not in accordance with constitutional provisions. The ECP has been named as a respondent through its secretary.
Under the articles of the constitution cited in the petitioner’s challenge, the ECP is empowered to conduct elections for both Houses of Parliament and the provincial assemblies. AJK is not listed as falling in the ECP’s jurisdiction.
Bhutta told reporters that the petition has been filed to ensure transparency in the election process and to make it conform to the law. Rajawana added that the petition will set a precedent for interpreting articles which forbid ECP to conduct election outside Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 17th, 2011.