Published On: Mon, Mar 13th, 2023
Published in Category: Islamabad

CEC Dr. Sikandar Sultan Raja convenes meeting today to take up PTI petitions challenging Section 144 in Lahore

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ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: Chief Election Commissioner Dr. Sikandar Sultan Raja has convened a meeting of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) today (Monday) to discuss the petitions field by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Dr. Babar Awan and Dr. Yasmin Rashid against the imposition of Section 144 and ban on the party’s rallies in Lahore.

Taking to Twitter on Sunday, the Election Commission of Pakistan said the meeting will be held at 10:30 AM today (Monday).

Ahead of its election rally in Lahore, the PTI approached the ECP on Sunday against the imposition of Section 144 in Lahore by the caretaker Punjab government.

In a media talk on Sunday, PTI leader and lawyer Dr. Babar Awan said that a petition had been filed in the Central Secretariat of the electoral body in Islamabad against the imposition of Section 144 in Lahore.

The plea said that the ECP had already announced the schedule for polls in the province and permitted all the political parties to undertake activities as per the law.

However, it noted, the Punjab interim government in blatant violation of the ECP’s code of conduct and relevant orders had directed the district administration of Lahore to impose Section 144 in Lahore in a bid to stop the PTI rally in Lahore.

“This is the second time since the announcement of the election schedule, Punjab Interim Government has led to this fascist tactic to stop Pakistan’s largest political party (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) to do electoral/political activity.”

The petition recalled that on March 8, the interim government in Punjab had imposed a ban on rallies in Lahore which led to a police operation on a party worker and the death of Zille Shah — a worker who PTI claims was killed by the Punjab police during the crackdown.

“The Punjab Interim Government/CM/Cabinet wants to repeat the same events even now and this light-handedness may lead to lego constitutional crises and political instability,” the petition warned.

It further highlighted that the PTI rally was slated to commence at 2pm today while the PSL match in the city was scheduled for 7pm. “The PTI rally will end by 5:30pm for which the rally route is completely different from the PSL match.”

The applicant also referred to the Supreme Court’s March 1 order — in which it had directed the ECP to immediately hold elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab — saying that in its judgment the apex court had issued directions to the federal government and interim Punjab set up under Article 148 of the Constitution.

“It is the constitutional duty of the Federation, in terms of clause (3) of Article 148 ‘to ensure that the Government of every Province is carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution’.

“There can be no doubt that this duty includes ensuring that a general election to the Assembly of every Province is held, and enabled to be held in a timely manner within the period set out in the Constitution. This duty is in addition to and applies independently of the duty cast under Article 220 on ‘all executive authorities in the Federation and in the Provinces to assist the Commissioner and the Election Commission in the discharge of his or their functions’,” the petition quoted the apex court’s orders.

It further quoted that “it is the duty of the Provincial governments, acting under the caretaker cabinets to proactively provide all aid and assistance as may be required by the election commission”.

“The ECP is requested to take notice of this illegal imposition of Section 144 in Lahore and the order may be declared null and void and without justification and PTI may be allowed to hold an election rally as per plan,” the petition concluded.

Separately, PTI leader Dr. Yasmin Rashid filed a similar petition in the ECP’s regional office in Lahore, saying that the route of the party’s rally and the PSL match was completely different.

“ECP is requested to take notice of the illegal imposition of Section 144 in Lahore and the order may be declared null and void and without justification.

And the PTI may be allowed to hold the election rally as per the plan,“ it added. Subsequently, the provincial election commission assured the PTI that its petition will be sent to the chief election commissioner.

In a media talk earlier on Sunday, Dr. Yasmin Rashid, flanked by PTI leader Mian Aslam Iqbal, urged supporters to stay put and maintain peace, adding that the party won’t take out the rally under it is granted permission.

She also said that the interim government had once again planned a crackdown against PTI workers today. “The ECP has stated that they have not received any directions against the rally.”

On the other hand, Punjab Caretaker Chief Minister Syed Mohsin Raza Naqvi has said that no ban had been imposed on political activities in the city. “All political parties are freely allowed to campaign,” he tweeted.

“We have restricted rallies and political activities for today as we have a PSL cricket match, team movements, and marathon in Lahore,” he said, adding that all these events had been planned and announced much in advance.

“There is NO Ban on political activities. All political parties are freely allowed to campaign. We have restricted Rallies and Political activities for today as we have PSL Cricket Match, team movements and Marathon in Lahore which were all planned and announced much in advance” Mohsin Naqvi tweeted.