By Shabbir Mir
GILGIT: Awami Workers Party leader Baba Jan, will have another chance to contest Hunza by-elections as Gilgit-Batistan’s apex court has asked election commission on Tuesday to redo the entire process for the polls within 45 days.
The court, headed by Chief Justice Rana Shamim, said the previous process for by-elections was illegal and lacked proper permission from the competent authority.
“The entire process leading to announcement of date for constituency GBLA-6 Hunza was flawed,” Shamim said while hearing a suo motu notice on the by-elections.
The hearing of the case was earlier petitioned by Zafar Iqbal of Pakistan Peoples Party, challenging candidature of Jan, who was serving life term in Hunza riots case. However, the petition was turned into a suo motu notice by the apex court.
During the hearing, the court was informed the election schedule and the election tribunal had been formed without approval from G-B council chairperson, who is also the prime minister of Pakistan, said Advocate Nazir Ahmed, who was the counsel for Jan.
“The court set aside the whole process and asked the election commission to redo the process within 45 days,” Ahmed told The Express Tribune.
All candidates were present in the court except for Jan, who along with 11 others have been serving life sentence handed down by an anti-terrorism court.
After the court’s decision, the election commission will carry out the entire process again, inviting nomination papers till the date for by-elections is announced.
Another lawyer, Ehsan Ali, said Jan will be among the candidates who will submit his papers again. He added a returning officer will however decide his fate after checking his papers.
Meanwhile, an AWP activist Wajid Ali said his party had organised protests in a number of countries in support of Jan’s release. “The worldwide campaign is under way and we will decide our course of action in a day or two,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 29th, 2016.