LHC directs ECP to decide on a plea against Bilawal within 30 days

The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to decide on a plea within 30 days that was filed challenging Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s contest in the 2018 general elections.

According to the petition, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had contested on Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarian (PPPP)’s ticket rather than his own Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

Justice Shams Mehmood Mirza presided over the case wherein petitioner Syed Iqtidar Haider implored the court that after the introduction of new election laws called Election Act 2017, the PPPP (headed by Asif Ali Zardari) and PPP (headed by Bilawal) registered separately as distinct political parties having election symbols “sword” and “arrow”.

The ECP approved “arrow” under section 215 (2) for the general election 2018 to Majlis-e-Shoora (parliament) and all provincial assemblies.

He contended that the foreign minister while contesting the general election submitted his party affiliation certificate from the PPPP to the returning officer for contesting the poll from NA-200 Larkana-I to the National Assembly.

Haider maintained that it shows that Bilawal’s dual membership of the PPP and PPPP violates section 203 (3) of the Election Act 2017, which says “a person shall not be a member of more than one political party at a time”.

It is pertinent to note that the petitioner had previously contended the same with the electoral watchdog but to no avail. Therefore, he prayed to the court to direct the ECP to decide on his application pending for a long time.

Subsequently, Justice Mirza disposed of the petition and directed the ECP to decide on the plea within 30 days.