ECP blames CM Shahbaz for ulterior motives

On Thursday, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) paused the Punjab government’s scheme of the Roshan Gharana programme of not collecting electricity bills from consumers that use under 100 units until July 17.

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On the grounds of a violation in the by-election code of conduct, the notice of the case sent to Chief Minister Hamza Shahbaz was heard in the ECP today. According to the CM’s lawyer, the programme was in the provincial budget and was not relevant to the provincial by-elections.

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The Sindh Election Commission (SEC) member said that such announcements could be seen as trying to influence the elections. Hamza Shahbaz’s lawyer claimed that if the CM truly wished to do so, he would have abstained from increasing petrol prices.

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However, the Commission member replied that increasing prices “is not the prerogative of the provincial government” and the chief election commissioner also asked why the programme was re-announced if it had previously been added to the budget. The lawyer responded that this was to include the consumers of 50 and 100 units because of the inflation increase.

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According to the director-general of law for the ECP, the commission was to give all the parties the chance to play fairly and equally. He said that the programme of the Punjab government was to impact the impending elections, saying it should be stopped and claiming that there were 10 days left in the by-elections. The CM’s lawyer retorted that the programme would be beneficial in August for the consumers.

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However, the Roshan Gharana programme was paused till July 17, and it was said that actions would be taken against the violation. The CEC said that the development programme must not be announced until the by-elections and “the ECP rejects all propaganda to make by-elections controversial.”

According to the Commission the 20 constituencies of Punjab will have transparent elections. The CEC further said the Roshan Gharana programme should recommence after the by-elections on July 17.

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