EC reverses decision; by-poll on June 26
ISLAMABAD, May 7: The Election Commission has decided to hold by-elections on 38 National Assembly and provincial assembly seats on June 26, reversing its decision to put off by-elections for two months that was criticised by political parties in and out of the government.
According to a revised schedule announced here on Wednesday, the polling will now take place a week after the date proposed earlier – June 18. But the matter of who was behind the decision to defer the by-polls remained a mystery.
Election Commission Secretary Kanwar Dilshad told Dawn that the decision was in line with the wishes of the the major political parties. “We have respected their viewpoint by doing so”, he remarked.
He said the commission had consulted top leaders of different political parties and also contacted the NWFP chief minister on phone and informed him that the EC was considering reviewing its decision regarding the by-polls. He said that the NWFP chief minister’s response had also been ‘very positive’.
He said no major political party had any reservation over the new date. Asked why the by-polls were not being held in accordance with the previous schedule, he said it was ‘technically not possible’.
Sources in the Election Commission said that the decision to hold the elections on June 26 had been made after receiving a ‘fresh report’ from the NWFP on the law and order situation.
According to the revised schedule, the nomination papers could be submitted between May 8 and 13. Scrutiny would take place on May 20. Appeals would be decided by May 31 while June 2 has been set as the last date for withdrawal of nomination papers.
Kanwar Mohammad Dilshad clarified that the candidates who had filed nomination papers with the returning officers by May 5 did not need to file papers afresh.
The National Assembly seats on which by-election will take place are: NA-11 Mardan-III, NA-52 Rawalpindi-III, NA-55 Rawalpindi-VI, NA-123 Lahore-VI, NA-131 Sheikhupura-I, and NA-147 Okara-V. By-election will also be held on NA-119 Lahore II and NA-207 Larkana-cum-Shikarpur-cum-Kumber Shahdadkot where polling had been deferred because of deaths of contesting candidates.
The 12 Punjab Assembly seats are: PP-10 Rawalpindi-X, PP-48 Bhakkar-II, PP-59 Faisalabad-IX, PP-107 Hafizabad-III, PP-118 M.B Din-III, PP-124 Sialkot-IV, PP-219 Khanewal-VIII, PP-229 Pakpattan-III, PP-243 Dera Ghazi Khan-IV, PP-258 Muzaffargarh-VIII, PP-277 Bahawalnagar-I and PP-295 Rahimyar Khan-XI. Polls were delayed in PP-99 Gujranwala, PP-70 Faisalabad, PP-141 Lahore, PP-154 Lahore, PP-171 Nankana Sahib, PP-154 Lahore because of deaths of candidates and would also be held on the same date.
In Sindh, by-polls will be held on PS-30 Khairpur-II, PS-44 Matiari-cum-Hyderabad, and PS-62 Tharparkar-III.
In the NWFP, by-election will be held on PF-20 Charsadda,IV, PF-45, Abbotabad-II, PF-75- Lakki Marwat-II and PP-91 Upper Dir. Polls were delayed in PF-59 Battagram, PF 81 Swat and PF-92 Upper Dir and would now be held on June 26.
In Balochistan, by-polls are to be held on PB-9 Pashin-II, PB-32 Jhal Magsi and PB-44, Lasbela I.