The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will meet on Monday, March 13 to address PTI’s appeals against the “illegal imposition” of Section 144 and the prohibition on the party’s rallies in Lahore. Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja has convened the meeting.
The election watchdog announced that the meeting will take place tomorrow at 10:30 am in a tweet.
الیکشن کمیشن آف پاکستان— Election Commission of Pakistan (OFFICIAL) (@ECP_Pakistan) March 12, 2023
12 مارچ، 2023
پنجاب حکومت کی طرف سے دفعہ 144 کے نفاذ اور الیکشن ریلیوں پر پابندی کے حوالے سے پی ٹی آئی کے ڈاکٹر بابر اعوان اور ڈاکٹر یاسمین راشد کی درخواستوں پر چیف الیکشن کمشنر نے کل ساڑھے 10 بجے کمیشن کا اہم اجلاس طلب کرلیا ہے۔ #ECP
PTI complained to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Sunday over the caretaker Punjab government’s “illegal imposition of Section 144 in Lahore” in advance of its electoral rally there.
Imran Khan, the leader of PTI, planned a new demonstration in Lahore last night, seemingly in defiance of the interim government’s crackdown on the party’s March 8 election rally.
The Punjab capital’s district government immediately after the announcement invoked Section 144 to forbid public gatherings, citing worries following a Pakistan Super League (PSL) match in the city.
PTI leader and attorney Babar Awan stated in a television interview on Sunday morning that a petition had been sent to the Central Secretariat of the election authority in Islamabad protesting the use of Section 144 in Lahore.
The argument claimed that the ECP had already made the province’s election schedule public and given all political parties permission to conduct activities in accordance with the law.
However, it pointed out that the Punjab interim government had instructed the Lahore district administration to implement Section 144 in Lahore in flagrant defiance of the ECO’s code of conduct and pertinent directives in an effort to halt PTI protest there.
The Punjab Interim Government has employed this fascist strategy twice since the election timetable was announced in an effort to prevent Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, the country’s largest political party, from engaging in political activity.
The appeal stated that the Punjab interim government had banned gatherings in Lahore on March 8, which prompted a police operation on a party member and resulted in Zille Shah’s death. PTI contends that Shah was assassinated by the Punjab police during the crackdown.
The plea cautioned that the Punjab Interim Government/CM/desire Cabinet to repeat the same incidents even now could result in further constitutional problems and political instability.
It further noted that today’s PSL game in the city was set for 7 p.m., while PTI rally was planned to start at 2 p.m. PTI rally, whose route is entirely different from that of the PSL match, will end around 5:30 p.m.
The applicant also made reference to the Supreme Court’s March 1 order, in which it instructed the ECP to hold elections right away in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab. The applicant claimed that the Supreme Court had instructed the federal government and interim Punjab created in accordance with Article 148 of the Constitution in its judgment.
According to paragraph (3) of Article 148, the Federation has a responsibility to “ensure that the Government of each Province is carried out in line with the requirements of the Constitution.
There is no question that part of this duty is to make sure that general elections for the assemblies of each province are enabled to take place on time and within the constitutionally mandated timeframe. The petition cited the apex court’s orders as saying that “this duty is in addition to and applies independently of the duty cast under Article 220 on ‘all executive authorities in the Federation and in the provinces to assist the Commissioner and the Election Commission in the discharge of his or her functions'”.
It further said that “proactively providing all aid and support as may be necessary by the election commission” is the responsibility of provincial governments working under caretaker administrations.
The petition concluded, “The ECP is requested to take note of this illegal imposition of Section 144 in Lahore and the order may be deemed null and void and without justification and PTI may be permitted to organize an electoral rally as per plan.
Awan claimed that the Punjab government’s instructions were illegal, undemocratic, and against the law during his media appearance today.
Insisting that the ECP carry out its constitutional duties, he asserted that the PTI plea had been approved.
Yasmin Rashid approaches to regional ECP office
Separately, PTI leader Yasmin Rashid submitted a comparable plea to the ECP’s Lahore regional office, claiming that the paths taken by the party’s rally and the PSL game were entirely different.
“ECP is urged to take note of the unlawful application of Section 144 in Lahore, and the order may be deemed invalid and unjustified.
Moreover, the PTI might be permitted to hold the planned electoral rally, it said. The provincial electoral commission subsequently gave the PTI the assurance that its petition will be forwarded to the chief election commissioner.
Rashid, backed by PTI leader Mian Aslam Iqbal, spoke to the media earlier today and encouraged supporters to stay put and uphold peace, stressing that the party wouldn’t hold the protest unless permission was granted.
She added that the interim administration has today’s planned crackdown on PTI employees. The ECP said that they had not been given any instructions to oppose the rally.