Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has petitioned the Supreme Court of Pakistan to hold early elections in the KP province. The move comes after a recent court ruling regarding the Punjab Assembly elections that encouraged the party to seek relief through legal means. PTI Secretary General Asad Umar, former KP Assembly Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani, former KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, and several former cabinet members have filed a joint petition through their counsel Barrister Syed Ali Zafar and Gohar Khan, seeking elections in the province to be held within a 90-day period.
The Supreme Court had earlier allowed the petitioners to approach any forum they deemed appropriate for seeking relief for the conduct of elections in KP since the matter was not decided upon. The court had also set May 14 as the date for the Punjab Assembly elections after quashing the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) notification that fixed Oct 8 as the election date.
The joint petition challenges the poll day announcement made by the governor on Oct 8, stating that the entire exercise was against the Constitution and amounted to depriving the petitioners and citizens of their fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 17 to participate in elections. The petition argues that the reasons given by the governor and the ECP regarding the unavailability of finances and the non-conducive law and order situation in the country to hold elections were legally flawed and a disingenuous excuse to delay the elections.
The petition further emphasizes that if the governor or the ECP is given the power to delay elections on the pretext of the law-and-order situation, then elections could be delayed indefinitely and forever, which is not warranted. The petition raises concerns that postponing the provincial elections by six months would further deteriorate the security situation.
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According to the petition, it is the responsibility of the federal and provincial governments to arrange funds for holding the elections on a priority basis to the exclusion of all other matters. The government is also obligated to provide the necessary security for polls.
The petition warns that if the excuse of law and order is accepted as a reason for delaying the election, it would become a legal mandate for caretaker governments to extend their period and tenure by insisting that they are unable to provide security. Moreover, the Constitution can always be held in abeyance on this ground every time the elections are due, which sets a dangerous precedent.