ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has announced that polls will be held in Punjab on May 14, in compliance with the Supreme Court’s orders. The country’s highest court declared the ECP’s decision to defer elections in the province as “unconstitutional” in a unanimous verdict on Tuesday.
SC Orders Reinstatement of Previous Election Schedule:
The Supreme Court also voided the ECP’s decision on Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) elections and instructed the electoral authority to reinstate its previous election schedule. The court directed the caretaker government in Punjab to assist the ECP and informed the commission to report if the government refused to do so. The constitution and laws of the election commission did not allow an extension of the date, the court clarified.
Nomination Papers to be Submitted from April 10:
According to the Supreme Court’s decision, candidates will be able to submit nomination papers from April 10, the electoral body will publish the list of candidates on April 19, and electoral symbols will be issued by April 20. The court also ordered the government to release Rs 21 billion for elections in Punjab by April 10, with the ECP to submit a report on the matter in court the same day.
PM Criticizes Verdict as “Murder of Justice”:
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif condemned the verdict, equating it with the judicial murder of former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. In his speech at the National Assembly, he called for a reference over the judicial murder of the late premier to be taken up and decided by the full court.
Maryam Nawaz and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari Slam Judiciary:
PML-N Senior Vice-President Maryam Nawaz criticized Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial for his remarks on parliamentarians during a hearing of the Punjab election delay case. Meanwhile, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari accused individuals in the judiciary of “doing politics” and called the institutions “puppets.”