The Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) staff was “missing” despite court orders to hold the local government elections in Islamabad today (Saturday) from polling stations as voters queued up outside their respective stations to cast their votes, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) decried.
The fate of the grass-root level elections hangs in the balance as the electoral body and federal government challenged the Islamabad High Court’s orders for polls today, via separate intra-court appeals.
The ECP kept all of its polling stations locked in the federal capital amid the voters’ arrival. The voters standing in a queue outside the polling stations recorded their protests against the closure of offices and the absence of the ECP’s staff.
PTI claimed that the voters were waiting outside the stations and that the ECP staff was missing despite the court’s orders to hold elections.
Taking to Twitter, PTI Chairman Imran Khan said that the ECP has “shown it is B team of imported government and its backers” by not implementing IHC’s orders.
“PDM, fearful of the people, is running away from all elections. Right to vote is a fundamental democratic norm & PTI stands committed to it,” he added.
PTI Senior Vice-President Fawad Chaudhry said that action should be taken against the ECP.
PTI leader Shireen Mazari said that the “ECP bais” has been exposed as the body has “committed contempt of court to please cabal of crooks and Conspirators by not allowing LG elections polling today despite IHC order”.
PTI Secretary General Asad Umar said that the voters and party teams are present at the polling stations but the ECP is missing in action.
Umar asked why didn’t the ECP prepare for elections when the court proceedings were going on. He requested the court to take action against the ECP for “committing contempt of court”.
IHC orders to hold LG polls in Islamabad today
On Friday, IHC directed the ECP to hold local government elections in the Islamabad Capital Territory today. However, the Commission and the federal government challenged the court’s order citing an inability to make security and other arrangements on short notice.
The election commission had deferred the polls in its December 27 decision after the federal government increased the number of union councils (UCs) in the capital without taking the former into confidence.
In its one-page short order issued on the petitions of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) seeking nullification of ECP’s decision, the high court asked the federal government to ensure that “it assists the election commission in holding the local government polls”.
“The Ministry of Interior’s December 19 notification has been declared null and void and so is the December 27 notification of the election commission,” the order added.