ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has sought the Punjab government’s assistance in holding of election for the Gujrat Municipal Corporation mayor on Wednesday.
The ECP invoked Article 220 of the Constitution after receiving a report from the Gujrat deputy commissioner citing the district police officer’s information about a purported threat from the militant Islamic State (IS) group to the polling activity.
While the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has 14 of the total 19 seats in the house, political pundits predict a tough contest between the PML-N and PML-Q for the mayor seat that had fallen vacant due to disqualification of PML-N’s Haji Nasir Mehmood by the apex court.
Mian Pervez Akhtar Pagganwala of the PML-Q and Tahir Mahmood Maanda of the PML-N are contesting for the slot.
Informed sources told Dawn that the ECP received a letter from the Gujrat deputy commissioner who quoted the Gujrat DPO as saying that there was a threat of a subversive activity from the militant IS group to disrupt the electoral exercise.
The ECP, which had made all the necessary arrangements for the polls, instantly swung into action after receiving the letter. The commission through separate letters directed the Punjab chief secretary and the inspector general of police to take appropriate security measures.
“The Election Commission has taken the matter very seriously and directed that the Government of Punjab fulfil its constitutional responsibility to assist the Commission under Articles 218(3) and 220 of the Constitution of Pakistan in peaceful conduct of election of mayor, Gujarat Municipal Corporation, scheduled to be held on April 17, 2019 by taking adequate security measures to avoid any harrowing incident,” the letter signed by ECP secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh Mohammad read.
Under Article 218(3) of the Constitution, it is ECP’s duty to organise and conduct the election and to make such arrangements as are necessary to ensure that the election is conducted honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with law, and that corrupt practices are guarded against.
Article 220 reads: “It shall be the duty of all executive authorities in the federation and in the provinces to assist the commissioner and the election commission in the discharge of his or their functions.”
In the house, the PML-Q has three members, its ally Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has one member, while all the remaining 14 belong to the PML-N. However, sources said the PML-Q had succeeded in mustering support of many PML-N members and could stage an upset despite its numerical minority. However, some political observers said the threat alert from the district of influential Chaudhries might be a last-minute attempt to get the polls postponed so that the PML-Q could gain time to garner support of more PML-N members.