ECC greenlights Rs42.5b for general election

ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) has given its nod to grant Rs42.5 billion for the forthcoming general election.

The meeting, presided over by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, finalised the approval of the Rs42.5 billion grant.

Sources revealed that the ECC has endorsed the summary provided by the Election Commission Pakistan, subject to a final confirmation of funds from the federal cabinet.

Initially, an amount of Rs10 billion will be disbursed to the election commission.

ECP Special Secretary Zafar Iqbal stated that if the assembly is dissolved on August 12, the election will be conducted before October 11.

However, should the assembly be dissolved prior to that date, the election will be held within three months.

The ECC’s decision comes amid a constitutional crisis over the delay in elections in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the two provinces where former prime minister Imran Khan’s party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), was in power until January this year.

Khan had dissolved the provincial assemblies in a bid to force early national elections, a demand he has been making since he was removed from power by a vote of confidence last year.

However, the government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif refused to give funds to the ECP to conduct the polls, citing security threats and financial problems.

The ECP had postponed the elections in Punjab from April 30 to October 8, defying a Supreme Court order that had directed it to hold the polls within 90 days of the dissolution of the assemblies.

The Supreme Court had taken a suo motu notice of the matter and declared the ECP’s decision as unconstitutional.

On April 4, the Supreme Court set aside the ECP’s order and ordered it to hold the elections in Punjab on May 14.

The top court also asked the government to release Rs20 billion by April 10 for the elections and the ECP to submit a report on available funds on April 11.

The apex court did not issue any order regarding elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, saying that a petition should be filed at an appropriate forum.

The delay in elections has sparked protests and criticism from Khan and his supporters, who accuse the government and the ECP of violating the constitution and denying them their democratic rights.

Khan has also alleged that the government and the establishment were afraid of facing him in the polls, as his popularity has risen after his ouster. He has vowed to challenge any attempt to postpone or rig the elections.

The government and its allies have dismissed Khan’s allegations as baseless and have accused him of creating instability and chaos in the country.

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