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PTI Knocked the door of ECP against imposition of Section 144 in Lahore

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has approached the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to challenge the “unlawful imposition of Section 144 in Lahore” by the interim Government of the Punjab.

The move comes after the district administration banned public gatherings through the invocation of Section 144 in the capital city, citing concerns in the wake of a Pakistan Super League (PSL) match.

Despite the crackdown by the temporary government on the PTI’s March 8 election rally, Imran Khan, the party’s leader, had announced a new rally in Lahore. The PTI petition, which was submitted at the ECO’s Central Secretariat in Islamabad, alleged that the action taken by the Punjab interim government was against the ECO’s code of conduct and pertinent orders.

The argument emphasised that the ECP had already made the province’s election schedule public, allowing all political parties to conduct themselves in accordance with the law. However, in an effort to put an end to the PTI rally, the Punjab interim government had ordered the district administration to impose Section 144.

The petition warned that the PTI rally, which was scheduled to start at 2 pm and end at 5:30 pm with a completely different route from the PSL match scheduled for 7 pm, would take a completely different route.

The Punjab interim government’s ban on rallies in Lahore on March 8 prompted a police operation on a party member and the death of Zille Shah, who the PTI claims was killed by the Punjab police during the crackdown, as was also recalled in the statement.

The PTI leaders urged the ECP to uphold its constitutional duties, asserting that the Punjab government’s orders were illegal, undemocratic, and against the law. The party added that it would file lawsuits in several courts to challenge the application of Section 144 in Lahore.

There was also reference to the Supreme Court’s March 1 order, which instructed the ECP to hold elections right away in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab and stated that the federal government and interim Punjab setup had to make sure that every province’s government was carried out in accordance with the Constitution.

According to the petition, the Supreme Court stated, “It is the duty of provincial governments acting under caretaker cabinets to provide all assistance and support as required by the election commission”.

The applicant asked the ECP to declare the order void and take notice of the unlawful application of Section 144 in Lahore, allowing the PTI to hold its scheduled election rally.

The ongoing conflict between the PTI and the interim Punjab government is anticipated to worsen as a result of the party’s approach to the ECP. After the government cracked down on the PTI rally on March 8, there were clashes between police and party members that resulted in Zille Shah’s death.

Political analysts have noted that the PTI’s decision to contact the ECP could be interpreted as an effort to challenge the legitimacy of the interim administration and spread the myth that it is using unconstitutional means to repress political opposition.

The ECP’s response to the PTI’s request is yet to be seen, as well as whether the party will be able to hold its rally as scheduled. Concerns about the infringement of democratic rights and freedoms as well as how the government strikes a balance between security concerns and the right to peaceful assembly and expression have been raised by the implementation of Section 144 in Lahore.

Written by Imad Khan

Imad Khan has the skills and experience to deliver top-notch content that informs, engages, and inspires. He oftens explores nature in his free time.