Election Commission of Pakistan Reports Unavailability of Funds for Punjab and KP Polls

Staggering Polls Infeasible, Raises Violence Risks and Political Polarisation Concerns, Says ECP Report to Supreme Court

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has submitted a report to the Supreme Court regarding the availability of funds required to conduct elections to the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies.

The report stated that the commission has not yet received the required Rs21 billion for the polls. While the full contents of the report are not publicly known, it outlined the latest situation on the unavailability of funds to the commission.

In an earlier report submitted to the court on April 18, the commission argued that holding staggered polls for the Punjab and KP assemblies was not feasible.

The commission claimed that it would result in significantly higher expenses compared to holding the exercise on one day.

The April 18 report was filed following the court’s April 14 directives, in which the commission stated that an already depleted security apparatus would require weeks in advance for its movement.

The ECP highlighted that staggering of elections could result in an increase in violence, as the losing party in one constituency may create violence in another constituency in the next phase to offset the perceived loss.

Furthermore, there is a risk of incidents influencing results through rigging in the next phase. The commission feared that staggering elections raises the risk of violence as outlaws would have more chances to plan and commit attacks than in the one-day limited window of opportunity.

Moreover, the police and other law enforcement agencies were engaged in intelligence-based operations in Punjab, and their appointment in election duty would compromise electoral activities by terrorists, who could re-engage in terrorism.

The commission also emphasized that prevailing polarisation needs consensus among parties to bring the political temperature down.

From an election perspective, political polarisation can have a triggering effect that could lead to violence and increase the risk to the safety of people during polls.

The ECP suggested that some guardrails and red lines be developed for tolerance and balance between contesting political parties and candidates.

However, the Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, dismissed the earlier ECP report as an attempt to restore the date for general elections to Oct 8, which was already set aside by the court through its April 4 order, in which May 14 was fixed as the fresh date for holding elections.

The bench, which was made up of Justices Ijaz-ul-Ahsan and Munib Akhtar, declared that it was improper to try to reopen matters and questions that had already been definitively resolved.

The court decided that the claim could not be upheld and that the ECP report should be dismissed as a result.

Written by Imad Khan

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