Sheikh Rasheed challenges postponement of NA-60 election

Sheikh Rasheed challenges postponement of NA-60 election

RAWALPINDI: Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rasheed challenged in the Lahore High Court’s Rawalpindi Bench on Monday the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) decision to postpone polling the city’s NA-60 constituency.

The ECP had postponed polling after the arrest and disqualification of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) Hanif Abbasi, Rasheed’s main contender for the seat, in the ephedrine quota case last week.

Submitting a petition through his counsel Sardar Abdul Razzaq, Rasheed has contended that election cannot be postponed due to the sentencing of a candidate.

Rasheed has mentioned in the petition that elections in the constituencies of PML-N’s Maryam Nawaz and Capt (retd) Safdar were not postponed when they were jailed in the Avenfield properties reference earlier this month.

The petition has named the ECP and relevant returning officer as respondents. 

Addressing party supporters in Rawalpindi's Liaquat Bagh Sunday night, Rasheed claimed that according to the Election Act 2017, polling cannot be postponed unless a candidate dies. 

Earlier, he had demanded that Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar take notice of the postponement of election in NA-60.

"Hanif Abbasi was sentenced in a contraband smuggling case," he told supporters, claiming that the ECP took an unconstitutional step to delay the polls, labelling the move a conspiracy.

Other than NA-60, Rasheed is contesting the July 25 general election from Rawalpindi's NA-62 constituency as well. 

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, being Rasheed's ally, has not fielded candidates in any of Rasheed's constituencies. 

A special anti-narcotics court sentenced Abbasi to life in the ephedrine quota case late Saturday, just four days before the general election in the country. The PML-N leader was taken into custody from the courtroom soon after the judge announced the verdict.

Polls postponed in other constituencies

According to Section 73 of the Election Act, 2017, “If a contesting candidate dies before commencement of the poll or during the polling hours, the returning officer shall, by public notice, terminate the proceedings relating to that election.”

Due to the law, polls have also been delayed in PS-87 Malir following death of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan candidate Sharif Ahmed Khan in a road accident, PK-78 Peshawar after the death of ANP candidate Haroon Bilour in a suicide attack and NA-103 and PP-103 constituencies of Faisalabad due to the death of independent candidate Mirza Mughal.

Elections were also delayed in PB-35 Mastung after a deadly suicide blast which claimed over 149 lives including that of BAP candidate Nawab Siraj Raisani.

Polls have also been postponed in PP-87 Mianwali after the death of Ahmed Khan, a candidate of Pakistan Justice and Democratic Party.