The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa treasury and opposition parties seem to be on the same page with regards to the schedule for local government re-polls.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government will reportedly forward a request to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold the polls after Ramazan; a demand opposition parties have been making ever since the schedule was announced.
A government functionary, who was part of the decision-making body, told The Express Tribune that this has not been finalised as yet. “It is something that has been discussed but not yet formulated or approved” he said. He added Chief Minister Pervez Khattak was the final authority to make a decision on the request to the ECP. However, the CM was the one who suggested holding polls after Ramazan, said the insider.
The ECP announced re-polling would take place on July 5 in wards where apparent irregularities were noted.
Opposition parties also demanded the government and ECP conduct re-polling after Ramazan. They expressed their reservations, adding there has been no formal response from the provincial government or ECP.
Candidates from various wards of Peshawar also addressed a news conference on Sunday at the Peshawar Press Club.
Pakistan Peoples Party candidate from Banamari, Salman Khan said they would boycott the elections if the ECP does not change the date. He threatened to go to Peshawar High Court against the ECP’s decision.
“The decision to conduct re-polling in this scorching heat and Ramazan is illogical,” commented Ihsanullah Qasmi, a contestant from the Hazar Khwani-II ward.
The candidate was of the view that it amounted to “pre-poll rigging” if people did not come to vote.
“The re-polling will not be transparent if the turnout remains low and that is what the provincial government wants,” said Muhammad Saeed, a candidate from Yakatoot-II Peshawar.
He said, “The ECP and PTI-led coalition government should review the decision and listen to the demands of postponing re-elections.” Saeed added, “If the ECP was in a hurry to conduct re-polls, it should have announced a date that was before Ramazan.”
Awami National Party provincial spokesperson Sardar Hussain Babak said people would prefer to remain indoors in the sizzling heat, especially during Ramazan. “It would affect voter turnout and may lead to more mismanagement.”
Similarly, leaders and stalwarts from different political parties from Nowshera also rejected the schedule for July 5 and requested the chief election commissioner to delay the polls.
The decision was made during an all-parties conference arranged by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl at Nowshera Press Club on Sunday.
The participants unanimously rejected the schedule on the grounds that Ramazan was a hot month this year and the weather would dissuade voters.
Meanwhile, all candidates of Gandheri union council, Nowshera rejected the polling schedule and asked for its timely revision. They said re-polling should be held after Eidul Fitr. They also accused the returning officer of supporting ANP candidates and asked for his replacement along with that of assistant returning officers on an immediate basis.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 29th, 2015.