The PTI on Saturday petitioned the Islamabad High Court (IHC) seeking the suspension of the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) by-election schedule for nine general seats of the National Assembly (NA).
The nine seats are among the 11 vacated after the acceptance of resignations of PTI MNAs by the National Assembly (NA) speaker, and their de-notification, last week.
Yesterday, the electoral body issued a notification stating that by-polls for the NA-22 Mardan, NA-24 Charsadda, NA-31 Peshawar, NA-45 Kurram, NA-108 Faisalabad, NA-118 Nankana Sahib, NA-237 Malir, NA-239 Korangi Karachi and NA-246 Karachi South constituencies will be held on September 25.
NA Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf had, on July 28, accepted the resignations of 11 PTI MNAs — nine on general seats and two on reserved seats for women — sparking controversy over the piecemeal acceptance of resignations. These lawmakers were among the more than 120 who had resigned from their NA seats en masse on April 11, two days after former prime minister Imran Khan was ousted from the top office in a no-confidence vote.
Subsequently, the party approached the IHC earlier this week, seeking approval for all the PTI’s MNAs’ resignations and identification. The court issued notices to the NA speaker, his secretary, and the ECP.
Today’s petition, submitted by Advocate Faisal Chaudhry, argued that the PTI’s main petition for acceptance of all party MNA resignations was pending adjudication before the IHC.
It said the issuance of the election schedule despite the court taking notice of the prior petition was a “deliberate and malicious effort” to defeat the PTI’s cause and the respondents were bound to follow and defer to the court’s order.
The petition further argued that if the election schedule was not suspended, it would cause “irreparable loss” to the PTI and defeat the cause of the previous petition pending adjudication.
Later in the day, the registrar’s office accepted the petition and fixed it for a hearing on August 10 (Wednesday), to be presided over by Acting IHC Chief Justice Amir Farooq.
Meanwhile, PTI chairman Imran Khan, in a bid to set a record, has announced candidature for all nine seats in the Sept 25 elections.
During the 2018 general elections, the PTI chairman had contested elections from five constituencies and had emerged victorious on all of them. He had defeated PML-N’s Khawaja Saad Rafique in NA-131 Lahore, former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi of the PML-N in NA-53 Islamabad, the late Syed Ali Raza Abidi of the MQM-Pakistan in NA-243, Ubaidullah Khan of the PML-N in NA-95 Mianwali and Akram Khan Durrani in NA-35 Bannu.
The ex-premier’s announcement has startled many, with some commentators questioning if the PTI chairman could not find any other suitable candidate and the expenses to be incurred in the subsequent by-elections should Imran win multiple seats and quits all but one.