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LHC reserves decision on Sheikh Rasheed’s plea against NA-60 poll delay

RAWALPINDI: The Lahore High Court’s Rawalpindi Bench reserved on Monday its decision on Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rasheed’s plea challenging the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) decision to postpone polling in the city’s NA-60 constituency.

The ECP had postponed polling after the arrest and disqualification of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) Hanif Abbasi, Rasheed’s main contender for the seat, in the ephedrine quota case last week.

Submitting a petition through his counsel Sardar Abdul Razzaq, Rasheed contended that election cannot be postponed due to the sentencing of a candidate.

Rasheed stated in the petition that elections in the constituencies of PML-N’s Maryam Nawaz and Capt (retd) Safdar were not postponed when they were jailed in the Avenfield properties reference earlier this month.

The petition has named the ECP and NA-60 returning officer as respondents.

LHC Justice Mujahid Mustaqeem conducted today’s proceedings where the ECP counsel opposed Rasheed’s plea.

The AML chief spent all morning waiting at the LHC and then shuttled between the twin cities in an attempt to ensure his plea is taken up today.

After waiting helplessly at the high court, the AML chief approached the Supreme Court where he submitted his petition.

Talking to the media, Rasheed said he waited for five hours at the LHC but the registrar failed to fix his petition for hearing. He expressed hope that the Supreme Court will hear his petition today.

However, in a press talk outside the top court later, Rasheed said he is now heading back to the LHC as it appears his petition is being fixed for hearing now.

PPP petitions IHC

Separately, Pakistan Peoples Party’s candidate on NA-60, Mukhtar Abbas, also challenged the ECP decision in the Islamabad High Court on Monday on similar grounds.

Taking up the plea, Justice Aamer Farooq issued notice to the ECP seeking a reply by tomorro and adjourned the hearing.

Presenting arguments, the PPP candidate’s counsel stated that candidates in six constituencies across the country were disqualified but polling was not delayed there.

During the proceedings, the judge wondered what would happen if polling is held since the ballot papers for the constituency include Abbasi’s name.

Rasheed terms ECP move unconstitutional

Addressing party supporters in Rawalpindi’s Liaquat Bagh Sunday night, Rasheed claimed that according to the Election Act 2017, polling cannot be postponed unless a candidate dies.

Earlier, he had demanded that Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar take notice of the postponement of election in NA-60.

“Hanif Abbasi was sentenced in a contraband smuggling case,” he told supporters, claiming that the ECP took an unconstitutional step to delay the polls, labelling the move a conspiracy.

Other than NA-60, Rasheed is contesting the July 25 general election from Rawalpindi’s NA-62 constituency as well.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, being Rasheed’s ally, has not fielded candidates in any of Rasheed’s constituencies.

A special anti-narcotics court sentenced Abbasi to life in the ephedrine quota case late Saturday, just four days before the general election in the country. The PML-N leader was taken into custody from the courtroom soon after the judge announced the verdict.

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