The Election Commission of Pakistan has issued production orders for imprisoned members of the national and provincial assemblies so that they could be a part of the voting process for the Senate election scheduled for March 3.
According to the order issued by the ECP on Friday, presence of PML-N President and Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif, PPP’s MNA Khursheed Shah, PML-N’s MNA Khawaja Asif, Opposition Leader in the Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz, and MNA Ali Wazir should be ensured at the polling stations on the day of the upper house election.
The order stated, “Detained members will be able to exercise their right to vote as it is a fundamental right of everyone. No one can be prevented from exercising their right to vote.
“The ECP is required by law to hold fair, impartial elections.”
It should be noted that Shehbaz, Khursheed, Asif, Hamza and Wazir are currently in custody.
Meanwhile, the third phase of the Senate election 2021 schedule has started in which the decisions of the returning officers (ROs) can be challenged in the appellate tribunals.
However, the candidates still face the danger of being rejected or accepted. Appeals were filed in the appellate tribunals today which will deal with them from February 22 to 23.
The ECP will release the final list on February 24 after deciding on the appeals while candidates will be able to withdraw their nomination papers till February 25.
There are currently 141 candidates in the fray for the 48 Senate seats.
According to sources, unopposed election of candidates for women and technocrat seats from Punjab will be decided on February 24. The ECP said, “Unopposed victory in any province cannot be finalised until the appellate tribunals’ ruling.”
On Friday, senior PML-N leader and former information minister Pervaiz Rashid challenged the ECP’s decision of rejecting his nomination papers submitted for the Senate election.
Rashid challenged the impugned order at the Punjab Election Appellate Tribunal of the Lahore High Court, saying that he was ready to address the objections raised by the returning officer.
The election tribunal is expected to take up Rashid’s plea today (Saturday).
One of the objections pertained to a purported demand raised by Comptroller Punjab House, Islamabad through a notice on January 17, 2019 for an amount of Rs6.9 million and another notice for an amount of Rs2.65 million, making a total of over Rs9.5 million.
The Punjab government had released a list of people, including Rashid, who had not cleared their bills for staying and taking meals at the Punjab House.
At the time of scrutiny (Feb 17 and 18), the respondents (objectors) Rana Mudassar Umer, advocate high court, and Zainab Umer, member of the Punjab Assembly, filed objections against his nomination papers.
The plea stated, “No one entertained appellant’s request to accept cash deposit or even the cross-cheque. It would not be irrelevant to mention here that the same day appellant filed an application before the learned RO seeking a direction to concerned respondent or any appropriate officer to accept the purported amount. The said application was entertained but no positive order was made by the learned RO.
“Later on February 18, the appellant yet again did his best to deposit the amount but to no avail. Resultantly, the appellant appeared before the learned RO and filed another application, stating therein that the appellant has been denied the deposit of payment by the concerned quarters, therefore, the appellant has prepared the cheques of the amount equivalent to the demand raised by the Punjab House, as indicated in the notices.”
The appellant submitted that he was willing to deposit the said amount in any bank account if the information was provided.
It was urged before the learned RO that since a demand has been raised, therefore, the Election Commission/RO may kindly issue an appropriate direction for entertaining the deposit of the amount so raised.
“The fate of the application is not known to the appellant, whereas, the learned respondent RO announced a verbal order in the presence of the appellant that his nomination papers are rejected due to non-deposit of the alleged amount raised through notices.”
He prayed the tribunal that the impugned order passed by RO on February 18, 2021, whereby the nomination papers of appellant have been rejected, may graciously be set aside and the nomination papers of the appellant for Senate election (general seat, Punjab) may kindly be accepted.