ISLAMABAD: In a fresh development, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Haji Ghulam Ali Friday urged the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold the general elections in the province on October 8, the same date the electoral watchdog has announced for Punjab, keeping in mind a rise in terror activities.
The governor, in the letter to Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, said it would be in the “best public interest as well as in the interest of the state” if polls were held in October instead of a previous date that he had suggested — May 28.
The ECP’s decision to withdraw an earlier announcement for Punjab elections came after security and financial bodies refused to back the commission during the upcoming polls.
The governor noted that recently, a fresh wave of terrorist activities has been taking place in the northwestern province on a daily basis.
He said major terrorist activities include cross-border fire in North Waziristan, an improvised explosive device (IED) blast on an army vehicle in Kohat, heavy exchange of fire with terrorists in South Waziristan on March 15, unknown terrorists fire on Khyber’s Bara Police Station on March 19.
Citing further incidents, he said a terrorist attack took on a police station in DI Khan followed by a search operation by the army, resulting in the martyrdom of three army soldiers on the night between March 21 and 22.
Also, he said, on March 21, a convoy was ambushed in South Waziristan which resulted in the martyrdom of Brigadier Mustafa Kamal Barki from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and injuries to seven other personnel.
The governor, in the letter, further said that since the ECP has postponed the election date for the general elections of Punjab to October 8, it is also suggested that the same date should be appointed as the election day for the general elections in KP.
It is pertinent to mention here, the government has welcomed the election commission’s decision to postpone the polls till October, but the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has vehemently rejected it and announced challenging it in the Supreme Court.
In November last year, PTI Chairman Imran Khan announced the dissolution of KP and Punjab assemblies, and after much back-and-forth, the legislatures were dissolved in January — Punjab on Jan 14 and KP on Jan 18.
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 1 — directing President Arif Alvi to announce a date for Punjab polls and Ali for KP.
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 organising authority, in a notification, recounted its various endeavours in trying to ensure that the commission carried out its responsibilities diligently.
But a determined PTI has vowed that it would move the Supreme Court and challenge the ECP’s decision against holding the Punjab polls on April 30.
Addressing a joint press conference yesterday, PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry Fawad, flanked by PTI Secretary General Asad Umar, announced that they are moving the top court against the ECP for “breaching the Constitution”.