“PTI files petition in Supreme Court for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa polls”

"PTI files petition in Supreme Court for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa polls"
"PTI files petition in Supreme Court for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa polls"
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On Thursday, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) filed a petition in the Supreme Court requesting that the court direct Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Haji Ghulam Ali to announce provincial polls. The PTI had previously secured a favourable verdict from the Supreme Court regarding a delay in the Punjab Assembly elections. The PTI’s petition was filed by Barrister Gohar Khan on behalf of former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa speaker Mushtaq Ghani, arguing that the governor was following the Supreme Court’s March 1st verdict that directed President Arif Alvi to announce a date for Punjab polls and Ali for KP.

On March 24th, Governor Ali urged the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold the general elections in the province on October 8th, the same date the electoral watchdog had announced for Punjab, keeping in mind a rise in terror activities. However, the PTI had already opposed the delay of Punjab polls, and after several hearings, the Supreme Court declared the ECP’s decision regarding the Punjab and KP elections null and void, ordering the electoral authority to hold snap polls, with May 14th being set as the date for Punjab. Two days after this verdict, the PTI moved the apex court to seek the interference of the SC in holding elections in KP.

The petition reiterated that it is important to hold elections within 90 days once the assembly is dissolved and that the governor was stepping back from his decision as he had already announced to hold the election on May 28th. The petition emphasized that it was beyond the “scope and ambit of the Constitution to allow an unrepresented government to continue to govern the population of Pakistan, including that of a province.”

The petitioner requested the court to set aside the Impugned Letter dt.24-03-2023 of Governor KP as unlawful, inter alia, on the grounds urged hereinabove; set aside the Impugned Letter dt.24-03-2023 as contrary to the directions issued by this Hon’ble Court on 01-03-2023 in Const.P.02/2023 and is non-est in view of Order dt.04-04-2023 passed in Const.P.05/2023; set aside the Impugned Notification dt.27-03-2023 as unlawful, illegal and without lawful authority as well as contrary to the Order dt.01-03-2023 and is non-est in view of Order dt.04-04-2023 passed in Const.P.05/2023; direct ECP in circumstances of this case to hold General Election to KP Assembly not later than 90 days’ subject to the barest minimum to that timeframe; and grant any other relief deemed appropriate and just in the circumstances.

The PTI had announced the dissolution of KP and Punjab assemblies in November last year, and after much back-and-forth, the legislatures were dissolved in January, with Punjab on January 14th and KP on January 18th. Then came the step of announcing election dates, and governors from both provinces were reluctant to issue dates until the Supreme Court’s order on March 1st. Following the announcements of dates, the ECP held consultations with provincial and federal authorities, and it did not receive a welcoming response, as the authorities declined to back the electoral watchdog.

Citing its responsibility towards ensuring fair elections in the country, the election organizing authority, in a notification, recounted its various endeavours in trying to ensure that the commission carried out its responsibilities diligently. The PTI has filed this petition in urgency, and it will be interesting to see how the Supreme Court responds to it.

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