ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was unable to start polling for local body elections in Islamabad on Saturday, despite the order from the Islamabad High Court (IHC).
The polling for the local body elections was scheduled to commence at 8 am, however, the ECP staff was unable to reach the respective polling stations.
Voters arrived for polling in Saidpur village union council (UC) and queued in protest as the gates for the polling station remained closed and staff was absent.
Similarly, in UC 37, voters lodged a strong protest after being unable to cast their votes.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan tweeted that “by not implementing IHC orders to hold LG elections in Islamabad today, ECP has again shown it is B team of [the] imported government and its backers”.
He alleged that the incumbent Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) was “fearful of the people” and was “running away from all elections”.
The deposed premier furthered that the right to vote was a “fundamental democratic norm” to which the PTI was “committed”.
PTI General Secretary Asad Umar said that his party’s workers were present outside polling stations from the morning but no one from the ECP had arrived. He alleged that the government was afraid of the people and bolted whenever elections were held.
Asad Umar questioned why the ECP’s preparations were incomplete and declared that his party wanted to initiate contempt of court proceedings against the electoral watchdog.
Intra-court appeal filed
The ECP and the federal government filed intra-court appeals against the IHC’s orders to hold local body elections in Islamabad.
Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) leader Mian Aslam and PTI’s Ali Nawaz Awan were made parties in the ECP’s application.
However, the IHC Registrar’s Office objected to the Commission’s appeal because some documents were allegedly missing from the appeal. The ECP’s legal team is currently working towards removing the objections.
Additional Attorney General Munawar Iqbal Dugal filed an appeal on behalf of the federal government.
PML-N leader Chaudhry Fazal Tariq, while talking to reporters in Islamabad, said that the incumbent government respected the high court’s orders but maintained that it was not possible to hold local government elections within a day. He added that the government would follow whatever ruling the court gave next.
Earlier, the IHC ordered the ECP to conduct local government elections in the federal capital on Saturday as per schedule, asking the federal government to assist the electoral watchdog in ensuring the holding of the polls.
The court cancelled the December 19 notification of the interior ministry regarding the increase in the number of union councils, while the December 27 notification of the ECP regarding the postponement of the elections was nullified.
The federal government excused itself from providing security to the ECP for the Islamabad LG elections, while the ECP made it clear that due to the lack of logistical support, election staff and other arrangements, it was not possible to hold the polls on Saturday.