Two separate petitions seeking the postponement of elections have landed before the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) a day before the commission is set to publish final delimitation lists.

The petitions, filed by individuals hailing from Balochistan, cited security issues and snowfall in several districts as reasons to seek the postponement of elections.

One of the petitions filed by Meena Majeed, a general councilor from Mand tehsil of Kech district, through Advocate Fatima Nazar, stated that Balochistan was dealing with heightened security concerns.

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“Specifically, the Mekran division has witnessed a surge in terrorist activities, ranging from target killings of innocent daily wage earners to alarming incidents such as IED blasts and women suicide bombing,” it stated. The impact was most pronounced in districts such as Kech and Gwadar, where 61 acts of terrorism during the last three months alone claimed 32 lives, it read.

“This topography coupled with inadequate road infrastructure and poor connectivity presents a formidable obstacle to implementing effective security measures and ensuring the feasibility of free and fair elections,” it added.

The other petition, filed by Toor Gul Khan Jogezai from district Kila Saifullah Khan through Advocate Azizullah Kakakhel, pointed out that many districts and divisions in the country face heavy snowfall in winter which affects the daily routines of residents.

As a result, elections can not be held in such areas, since the inhabitants of these areas were either displaced or are limited, until the month of May or restoration of normal life.

The petition argued that if elections are held in such areas, it is feared that provincial or national assembly candidates would either lose their vote bank or voters would lose their votes in favor of their candidates.

Hence, it is need of time that the election be postponed to any other suitable time through which the citizens of such an area could participate in a free and fair election and elect representatives according to their choice of constituency, the petition read.

Elections ‘on time’

ECP issued a firm rebuttal, cautioning that legal action could be taken against individuals disseminating misleading news about a potential delay in the polls scheduled for February 8, 2024.

The ECP had earlier set February 8, 2024, as the election date following consultations with President Arif Alvi and in accordance with the Supreme Court’s directives.

Despite the announcement and a consensus among political parties welcoming the development, some political leaders and analysts persisted in casting doubts on the scheduled elections.

A spokesperson for the ECP, in a statement on Thursday, termed the media reports regarding election delay as “baseless and misleading”.

The statement said a report claiming that the voters’ lists were not being prepared is “completely false”.

The spokesperson further said that it has approached the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to take legal action against those “spreading misleading news”.