ECP asserts

THE Election Commission of Pakistan’s decision to postpone polling in NA-60 Rawalpindi following disqualification of PML-N’s candidate Hanif Abbasi has widely been welcomed as it has been taken in the spirit of providing level playing field to all parties and candidates and to ensure free, fair and transparent election. Abbasi was awarded life imprisonment by Control Narcotics Substances Court (CNSC) of Rawalpindi in a case relating to misuse of controlled chemical ephedrine on Saturday.
The Commission’s decision came in the wake of large-scale criticism in political and social circles over timing of the court’s verdict in the six-year-old case. There was general impression that the court provided virtual walk over to leader of Awami Muslim League Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed, who was otherwise set to face fiercest contest by Hanif Abbasi. The ECP has cited relevant provisions of the law and the Constitution as well as Supreme Court verdict in Workers Party case in announcing postponement of polling in the same constituency to meet demands of justice and fair-play. However, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad as well as PPP resisted and criticised the verdict on self-centred reasons.
Addressing a news conference, Sheikh Rasheed claimed the Commission had no authority to take such a decision and similar views were expressed by PPP leaders who said there was no precedent of postponement of election in case of disqualification of a candidate. But there was also no precedent of disqualification of a particular candidate of a particular party so close to the poll and that too when the court had fixed the next date of hearing of the said case in August ie well after general election. Sheikh’s desperation is understandable as the CNSC verdict had somewhat cleared his way for electoral victory. Similarly, in the absence of PML-N’s candidate, there was no choice for PML-N voters than to vote for PPP candidate and therefore PPP grievance is also understandable. But the Commission has taken the decision on the basis of ground realities and dictates of justice and therefore, it received appreciation from all. Candidates should fight politically and must not bank upon shoulders of institutions for their victories and successes.

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