Senate Resolution Calls for Suspension of Feb 8 Election Schedule

The Senate has passed a resolution calling for a delay in the 2024 general elections, scheduled for February 8, due to security concerns.

The resolution, moved by independent Senator Dilawar Khan, urged the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to suspend the election schedule until the security situation improves.

Senator Khan said that there were serious threats to the lives of political leaders and candidates, especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where he hails from. He cited the intelligence agencies’ warning of possible attacks on election rallies and gatherings.

The resolution was opposed by Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) Senator Afnanullah Khan, who argued that postponing the elections would set a bad precedent and undermine democracy.

He reminded the House that the elections were held on time in 2008, despite the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, and in 2013, despite the wave of terrorism and violence.

He said that the country could not afford to delay the elections on the basis of vague and unsubstantiated security threats.

The resolution comes amid growing uncertainty and controversy over the upcoming polls, which are expected to be a close contest between the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) and the opposition alliance Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM).

Earlier this week, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who is also the head of the PDM, expressed doubts over the timely and fair conduct of the elections.

He raised questions over the rejection of nomination papers of several prominent candidates, including PTI chief Imran Khan and Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) leader Akhtar Mengal, by the returning officers.

He also highlighted the security risks faced by the opposition leaders and workers, referring to a recent attack on his convoy in Dera Ismail Khan, his hometown.

He said that his party wanted to participate in the elections, but there should be a conducive environment for it.

The ECP has not yet responded to the Senate resolution, but it has previously stated that it is fully prepared to hold the elections as per the constitutional deadline.

The ECP has also assured the political parties and the public that it will take all necessary measures to ensure the safety and security of the voters, candidates, and polling staff.

The ECP has also appealed to the political parties and the media to refrain from making any statements or reports that could create confusion or doubts about the electoral process.

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