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ECP warns PTI leaders of ex parte action if they skip next hearing

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  • Trio of PTI leaders misses ECP hearing once again.
  • ECP issued contempt notices to Imran, others.
  • Next hearing scheduled for January 24.

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Tuesday strictly warned Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders of ex parte proceedings if they failed to appear in another hearing of the contempt case.  

The ECP is hearing the case against PTI Chairman Imran Khan, Secretary General Asad Umar and Senior Vice-President Fawad Chaudhry. 

The electoral body had also issued bailable arrest warrants — for the three leaders — which were suspended by the Lahore High Court on Monday. 

At the outset of Tuesday’s hearing, ECP’s Balochistan member questioned, “Where are Imran Khan, Asad Umar, and Fawad Chaudhary?”

At this, Advocate Faisal Chaudhry’s assistant told the ECP panel that the PTI leaders and their counsel could not make it to the hearing because they had to attend former president Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Latif Afridi’s funeral in Peshawar. 

The electoral body’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa member said the high court had suspended their arrest warrants but did not exempt them from attending the proceedings, adding that they did not file an exemption request either.

ECP Sindh member Nisar Durrani said that the ECP will hold ex parte proceedings and announce the verdict if the PTI leaders skip the next hearing.

The ECP panel adjourned the hearing until January 24.

In August last year, the ECP issued a contempt notice to the PTI leaders for insulting the commission and its chief during public meetings, press conferences, and interviews.

LHC suspends ECP’s arrest warrants

On Monday, the LHC Rawalpindi Bench suspended the PTI leaders’ bailable arrest warrants issued by the ECP.

Justice Sadaqat Ali Khan of the LHC suspended the warrants issued by ECP’s four-member bench last week.

Even though the court suspended the warrants, it directed the ECP to carry on with its contempt proceedings against the PTI leaders.

Last week, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry, immediately after the ECP’s decision, announced he would challenge the warrants in the high court and file a contempt plea against ECP.

Court warns PTI against targetting judiciary

During the hearing, the court remarked “PTI seeks relief from the judiciary but targets them in the media”.

“Targeting the judiciary in the media is contempt of court. If Fawad Chaudhry targets the courts in the media again, contempt of court proceedings will be launched,” warned the court.

Justice Khan remarked that Fawad during an interview with an international channel laid the blame for corruption on the judiciary. He also told the PTI leader’s lawyer that the court was granting him relief right now but he should tell his client to refrain from making contemptuous remarks against the courts.

“Enough is enough, the court will no longer show restraint,” remarked Justice Khan.

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36% of fresh faces make it to the National Assembly.

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Following the general elections of this year, a record 36% of new members have joined the National Assembly.

There are now 96 new legislators that have been elected to the assembly out of 265 total. In the general elections, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) has elected the most number of fresh faces as Independents.

Of the new faces, eleven PPP and MQM members, as well as fifteen PML-N members, have become MNAs for the first time. The IPP’s Abdul Aleem Khan and Awn Chaudhry were elected to the National Assembly for the first time.

Ataullah Tarar of the Pakistan Muslim League-N, Mir Jamal Khan Raisani, the party’s youngest member, was also elected from Balochistan for the first time and made it to the lower house.

Sher Afzal Marwat, Latif Khosa, and Barrister Gohar Ali Khan, who is supported by the PTI, are some of the fresh faces. In the last parliament, Shandana Gulzar had a reserved seat; however, this time, she was elected to a general seat.

Arshad Vohra, Syed Mustafa Kamal, and Rauf Siddiqui of the MQM were also elected to the National Assembly for the first time.

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Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri’s JUI-F resignation from the Senate

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Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani received the JUI-F leader’s resignation, which he accepted.

In the National Assembly, Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri will be sworn in as a member.

Following their victories in the general elections on February 8 for the Balochistan Assembly, Senators Sarfraz Bugti and Prince Umar Ahmedzai had already announced their resignations from the Senate.

Prior carer Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani received the resignation of Federal Interior Minister Bugti, which he accepted.

In a similar vein, Senator Prince Umar Ahmedzai of the Balochistan Awami Party resigned from the Senate following his election to the provincial legislature.

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NA session: The interim government addresses President Alvi’s concerns

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Details indicate that in response, the federal government informed Dr. Arif Alvi that Article 91 of the 1973 Constitution does not grant the president the “discretion or power” to adjourn the National Assembly session.

The sources quoted the federal administration and said, “Nowhere in Article 91 is it written that if the House is incomplete, the National Assembly session cannot be convened.”

It further said that Article 54 of the constitution allowed the president to adjourn the National Assembly’s “ordinary” session alone. According to the summary, the president was requested to call an extraordinary session of the National Assembly so that the newly elected members may take an oath of office.

Dr. Arif Alvi was asked to reconsider his choice and call a meeting of the National Assembly by the acting federal government on February 29.

The sources quoted the federal government and stated, “It is not written anywhere in the constitution that if specific seats are not allotted, the session cannot be called.”

It further said that the National Assembly must be called within 21 days following the election in accordance with Clause 2 of Article 91 of the constitution.

The caretaker administration responded, saying, “Even if the President does not call the National Assembly session by February 29, it would still be held on the same day.”

Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf called a session of the National Assembly on Thursday, February 29th, in order to administer the oath to the newly elected Members of Congress earlier on Monday.

According to specifics, President Arif Alvi declined to call a meeting under clause 2 of Article 91 of the constitution, arguing that the lower body is still unfinished because a decision on certain reserved seats has not yet been made. Consequently, the Speaker National Assembly called the meeting.

The National Assembly’s maiden session was called by Raja Pervaiz Ashraf on Thursday at 10:00 a.m. The freshly elected members of the National Assembly would take the oath of office from the Speaker. During the first session, the election schedules for speaker and deputy speaker will also be released.

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