‘Symbol dispute’ could lead to poll delay, ECP warns – Pakistan

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ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has warned that the polls might have to be delayed if orders maintain coming for altering the election symbols already allotted to candidates.

Without naming any court docket, the ECP in a press release identified that election symbols had been being modified via numerous boards.

Following the allotment of election symbols, the ECP mentioned it had already ordered the printing of poll papers to the three printing firms and the printing work had began a day earlier than.

“If the method of adjusting the election symbols continues in the identical approach, there’s a concern of election delay, as a result of the poll papers could have to be reprinted for which era is already restricted and then again, the particular paper accessible for the poll papers can even be misplaced,” it reasoned.

Officials informed not to change symbols allotted to candidates; PPP calls for removing of ‘biased ROs’

The fee famous over 33 per cent improve within the variety of candidates for the upcoming basic elections, as a complete of 18,059 are within the run as in contrast to 11,700 candidates who contested the 2018 polls.

In the 2018 elections, 800-tonne paper was used for printing 220 million poll papers, whereas this time the estimate is 2,070-tonne paper for printing of 260m poll papers significantly after the replace of electoral rolls within the backdrop of the delimitation of constituencies.

While the ECP is coping with this case, it has repeatedly issued directions to related officers that election symbols shouldn’t be modified as soon as the printing had began. However, the assertion added, it was additionally being thought of that if the development of adjusting the election symbols didn’t cease, there could be no different possibility however to postpone the elections in such constituencies.

The ECP earlier barred district returning officers (DROs) and returning officers (ROs) from altering election symbols allotted to electoral candidates for the upcoming elections.

According to ECP spokesman Syed Nadeem Haider, the ECP directed the provincial election commissioners, DROs and ROs to keep away from altering election symbols at this stage, and to search its approval if a change was basically required.

Denial of image

The directive got here only a day after the PPP had raised severe concern over denial of the get together election image (arrow) to its ticket holders in Punjab and putting them within the class of impartial candidates.

Senator Taj Haider, official in control of PPP’s central election cell, in a letter written to the chief election Commissioner had identified that below Section 66 of the Elections Act, 2017, “a declaration earlier than the RO about his affiliation with a specific political get together, if any, together with a certificates from the political get together displaying that he’s that get together’s candidate from that constituency was the one and the ultimate requirement for ‘searching for allotment of a prescribed image’”.

“There is not any ambiguity on this Section of the Elections Act, 2017 and it needs to be adopted in letter and spirit,” the letter mentioned. “… the entire system of our constitutional democracy is constructed across the fundamental construction of political events. Accepted that residents have the choice of contesting elections as impartial candidates however, we’ve got repeatedly skilled that the presence of independents in an elected home does open an unlucky window for horse buying and selling and exerting pressures on the elected independents,” it learn.

The letter mentioned impartial candidates had been typically elected by profiting from ‘parochial, racial, tribal, sectarian and provincial prejudices’ fault traces among the many residents. “Under Article 33 of our structure, it’s the responsibility of the state to discourage such and related such prejudices. Instead residents needs to be inspired to vote on the efficiency, insurance policies and manifestos of political events. Pushing legitimate candidates who’re affiliated to a celebration and in addition submit required paperwork earlier than ROs on the time of searching for a prescribed image, outdoors the fold of that get together and into the class of independents runs opposite to the provisions of Article 33 and the required and adequate necessities of Section 66 of the Elections Act, 2017,” it mentioned.

PPP Vice President Senator Sherry Rehman, in a put up on X (previously Twitter), named among the candidates denied the image of arrow in Punjab, together with the symbols allotted to them.

According to the PPP, the candidates included Sardar Zulfiqar Ali Khan Dullah from NA-58 Chakwal, Hasan Sardar from NA-59 Chakwal, Chaudhry Atif Rafique from NA-122 Lahore, Chaudhry Naushad from PP-20 Chakwal, Raja Amjad Noon from PP-21 Chakwal, Mujahid Islam from PP-119 Toba Tek Singh and Muhammad Fayyaz from PP-163 Lahore; a few of whom have gotten aid on court docket orders.

PPP’s personal mistake

An ECP official, when contacted, tried to downplay the controversy over allotment of symbols of independents to PPP candidates by claiming that they had been both searching for the image of one other get together after they submitted nomination papers or left the column of get together affiliation clean.

“It is inappropriate each for the PPP and its candidates to blame ECP or ROs for their very own mistake,” the official mentioned.

Talking to Dawn, Senator Taj Haider questioned as why they’d been allotted symbols meant for impartial candidates, if they’d requested for a logo of one other get together.

He expressed shock over the ECP’s directive and mentioned a flawed has to be rectified. “Start of poll papers’ printing can’t be an excuse,” he remarked.

He mentioned the potential of ROs drawn from the district administration doing it “below PML-N stress” can’t be dominated out. He mentioned lack of understanding of ROs concerning the related regulation could even be a cause.

Removal of biased ROs

Meanwhile, in one more letter written to the CEC on Tuesday, a duplicate of which is out there with Dawn, Senator Taj Haider regretted that despite settlement of the ECP’s lawyer earlier than the Lahore High Court on allotting the get together image (arrow) to the PPP candidate from PP 163, ‘the extraordinarily biased returning officer’ of the constituency has raised frivolous objections to the difficulty of get together ticket to candidate Fayyaz Bhatti.

Under Section 66 of the Elections Act 2017, he mentioned, the presentation of the get together ticket by a candidate to the RO was adequate proof of affiliation of the candidate with that political get together. “It is unlucky that the RO with mala fide intent continues to impede the allotment of the get together ticket to our candidate.

“His motion and angle quantities to a transparent contempt of the Lahore High Court. In this case moreover requesting that the image needs to be allotted to our candidate with out additional delay we demand that the biased returning officer needs to be faraway from his place”, the letter reads.

PPP’s election cell member Barrister Amir Hassan alleged that the RO was working on the behest of the rival PML-N to weaken PPP’s vote financial institution in NA-127 constituency, the place PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari is within the race.

He alleged that the PML-N being afraid of Bilawal’s entry into the political area of Lahore was trying to manipulate the elections via ‘corrupt’ officialdom. He mentioned the get together would register its protest in opposition to the RO earlier than the Election Commission workplaces if the get together’s election image was not allotted to Mr Bhatti.

Amjad Mahmood in Lahore additionally contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, January seventeenth, 2024

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