Presidential elections: As last resort, govt takes poll date revision plea to court

Petition claims few MPs would participate if polls are held on Ramazan 27.

Azam Khan July 24, 2013
Petition claims few MPs would participate if polls are held on Ramazan 27. PHOTO: AFP/FILE


The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) turned to the Supreme Court on Tuesday in a last-ditch attempt to push forward the August 6 presidential elections by a week.

The move comes a day after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) rejected a proposal to reschedule the poll. Senator Raja Zafarul Haq filed the petition on behalf of the PML-N, in which he declared that the ECP’s decision was against the spirit of Islamic injunctions.

“The Constitution declares that Islam shall be the state religion of Pakistan,” read the petition. It argued that if the presidential elections were held on August 6, 2013 (27th Ramazan), the fundamental rights of the parliamentarians would be infringed.  “The parliamentarians will not be able to participate in the presidential elections in view of their engagements towards spiritual and religious plans in the last ten days of the holy month,” Zafar maintained.

The PML-N requests that the election be held on July 30 as the ECP earlier stated that it was not possible to reschedule the elections, as all arrangements had been made for the purpose. ECP Secretary Ishtiaq Ahmed Khan on Monday announced the final decision of the commission that it would hold the presidential election on August 6 as scheduled earlier. He also said that the federal government had given “insufficient” reasons for the move.

The ruling party is trying to move the date of the presidential elections on religious grounds that several parliamentarians will be out of the country to perform Umrah and many others would be observing Itikaf.

In his petition the senator stated that August 6, 2013 would fall on the 27th of the holy month of Ramazan, a date which carries lot of importance for all the Muslims.

The petition said a large number of parliamentarians/voters were planning to sit in itikaf at their native places or in Makkah or Madina.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and comprising Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed  will take up the petition today (Wednesday).

ECP instructions for poll

On Tuesday the poll supervisory body issued instructions to parliamentarians for voting in the upcoming presidential elections in a two-page directive. Voters will have to put a cross next to the alphabetically sorted name they choose to vote for; as no other marking will be allowed or counted, according to the advisory.

A special pencil will also be provided for the voting process, and no other pen or pencil will be allowed for the marking procedure. Parliamentary members will have to display a Senate or National Assembly identity card in order to be eligible to vote. Special instructions also include keeping the vote confidential during the process.

Meanwhile, the poll commission also wrote a letter to all four high court registrars to remind them about the schedule of the polls and their role in the scrutiny of the nomination papers. The commission asked them to return the nomination papers in a sealed envelope after the due date.

ECP asks for assets data

The ECP also sought assets details from all political parties. The commission has once again drawn attention of political parties to the provisions of Article 13 of the Political Parties Order, 2002, which provides that every political party shall submit to the Election Commission within 60 days from the close of each financial year, a consolidated statement of accounts of the party, duly audited by a chartered accountant.

The last date for filing the statement of accounts by political parties is August 29. A certificate signed by the party leader must accompany the statement of accounts stating that no funds from any source prohibited under the Political Parties Order, 2002, were received by the party; and the statement contains an accurate financial position of the party.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2013.


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