PESHAWAR: A district monitoring officer of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Friday adjourned the hearing into several notices issued to former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan, Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and several provincial ministers for allegedly violating code of conduct for the upcoming by-elections.

NA-31 Peshawar DMO Shahabuddin accepted the plea of lawyers for Mr Imran and others to allow them time until Sept 15 for submitting response to the notices issued by him.

The DMO declared that no further adjournment would be granted and the failure of the former prime minister, CM and ministers to appear on the next date could lead to ex parte proceedings under the law.

Notices were issued to Mr Imran, Mr Mahmood and seven others named in the case on Sept 7 after a public meeting of the ruling party was held a day earlier in the NA-31, Peshawar–V constituency, where the former prime minister addressed and the chief minister and ministers were in attendance despite an ECP warning.

NA-31 ECP official adjourns hearing of notices to ex-PM and CM until 15th

The ECP has already postponed the by-poll scheduled for Sept 25 in NA-31 as well as in other constituencies. It will announce the polling date later on.

Advocates Qazi Babar Irshad appeared for Mr Imran, Ali Gohar Durrani represented the chief minister, ministers Kamran Khan Bangash, Shaukat Ali Yousafzai, Mohammad Iqbal Wazir, Ishtiaq Urmer and Taimur Saleem Jhagra, CM’s adviser Khaleequr Rehman and his special assistant Wazirzada, whereas Saifullah Khan Khalil defended minister Anwer Zeb Khan.

In separate notices, the DMO had asked all of them to appear before him or send in their counsel on Friday.

The lawyers requested the DMO to adjourn the case until Sept 15 for submitting the reply saying they’re busy with a Supreme Court case until Sept 14.

Advocate Qazi Babar Irshad told media persons that he had received the notices from the DMO and would submit reply on behalf of Mr Imran by Sept 15.

He said Mr Imran was a candidate in by-elections on NA-31 Peshawar and it was his right to attend and address a public meeting there.

The lawyer claimed that the notice issued to Mr Imran had no valid grounds as no state machinery was used by him in the meeting. He added that holding a public meeting was part of political activities during polls.

Mr Irshad questioned why the ECP had not been taking notice of the public meetings held by the Pakistan Democratic Movement.

Advocate Ali Gohar Durrani said his clients had not received the notices and they came to know about it through media reports and visited the DMO for the purpose.

He also insisted that there were no concrete allegations against them in the notices and he would file reply to them after consulting his clients. Mr Durrani claimed that the said public meeting was not held in connection with the by-elections.

The notice issued to Mr Imran read, “It has come to the notice of the DMO through media and reports of monitoring team that state resources have been utilised for electioneering and arrangements for public rally convened on Sept 6 as part of the election campaign for NA-31, Peshawar-V.

“Moreover, public office holders also participated in the rally, which is sheer violation of Para No 17(B) and Para No 30 of the code of conduct issued by the ECP.”

Published in Dawn, September 10th, 2022

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