LHC directs ECP to hold elections for Punjab Assembly within 90 days

Punjab Assembly elections

Lahore: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold elections for the Punjab Assembly within 90 days.

Justice Jawad Hassan of the LHC accepted the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) plea and asked the electoral body to stage the polls within the constitutional limit.

The PTI had moved the high court after repeatedly demanding that the election commission issue the dates for the elections in Punjab. The party dissolved the provincial assembly on January 14.

Through the order, the LHC directed the ECP to “immediately” announce the date of the election of the provincial assembly of Punjab after consultation with the Governor of Punjab, who is the constitutional head of the Province, to ensure that the elections are held not later than ninety days as per the mandate of the Constitution.

During today’s hearing, the Inspector General of Punjab Police, Dr Usman Anwar, and the chief secretary appeared before the court.

Punjab’s top cop and bureaucrat assured the court that they would follow whatever the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) decides. The chief secretary also said that they would follow through on the court’s order.

Punjab recommends holding PA polls, NA by-elections on same day

On Wednesday, Punjab had asked the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold by-elections for Punjab Assembly (PA) and National Assembly (NA) on the same day to save money and ensure foolproof security.

Briefing the ECP meeting, chaired by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja regarding Punjab Assembly elections, Punjab chief secretary Zahid Akhtar Zaman had said that holding elections on separate days would not only increase the election expenditures two-fold but also make the task of law enforcement agencies (LEAs) to provide fool proof security difficult.

The provincial chief secretary stated that administrative officials, police officers, and teachers have to perform duties during the polls, adding that the same employees would be performing their duties in the census as well.

Similarly, Punjab Inspector Gen­eral (IG) Dr Usman Anwar informed the ECP that it would be a “difficult task” to hold elections in the province until a police operation against militants, expected to be completed in four to five months, was over.