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ISLAMABAD: With majority of mainstream political parties censuring the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) over what they dub is the electoral entity’s failure in assuring them ‘a level playing field’ against the backdrop of the upcoming general polls, Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja has appealed to the public not to “heed the baseless rumours regarding the elections.”

He also appealed to the people to fully participate in the electoral process, in his message in connection with the National Voter’s Day on Thursday.

“The people should remember that they have the power to vote in their hands— use this power keeping in view your future and that of your children,” he said in a statement.

General elections: Ministry of Finance releases Rs17.4bn to ECP

Raja said the ECP is fully ready and determined for holding free, fair and peaceful elections.

The CEC’s statement comes at a time when the ECP is faced with mounting criticism from mainstream political parties including Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and Awami National Party (ANP) over denial of level playing field.

Earlier on Monday, Convenor MQM-P Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui alleged that the electoral team working under the leadership of the CEC was “compromised”— and that the ECP “worsened” the mistakes in the freshly completed delimitation drive - instead of rectifying them. Siddiqui told this to the media after senior MQM-P leaders, led by him, met the CEC over the political party’s concerns regarding the delimitation of constituencies of the assemblies for the general elections in Sindh.

Apart from MQM-P, other political parties especially PTI, PPP, JI and ANP have repeatedly lambasted the ECP over alleged denial of level playing field.

On Wednesday, in a move that raised eyebrows, the ECP decided to hold the contempt trial of former Prime Minister Imran Khan and ex-PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry in Adiala Jail Rawalpindi, instead of ECP headquarters, after the caretaker federal government declined to accept the poll body’s order to bring Khan to the ECP in the contempt case.

Different public and political circles have lambasted the ECP and the caretaker government for their inability in ensuring foolproof security to a former PM, and that too in the federal capital, for holding his trial at the ECP headquarters instead of jail.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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