The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf on Saturday urged the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to announce the exact date for the upcoming general elections without any delay.
PPP while demanding a level-playing field for all the political parties has also urged the ECP to announce the date and election schedule as per the Constitution while the PTI insisted that the ECP should play its constitutional role to ensure holding polls within the constitutionally mandated period of 90 days.
The demand came just days after the ECP announced that elections would be held in the last week of January as the delimitation process would be completed by Nov 30, followed by a 54-day election programme period before the general elections.
Apparently, the eagerly awaited announcement cleared the fog of political ambiguity and rekindled hopes for a resurgence of political and economic stability but despite clearing the air about polls’ timing, the ECP did not announce the exact elections date, leaving room for speculation.
Therefore, a PTI spokesperson urged the ECP to shun the useless practice of hiding behind the technicalities to avoid the announcement of a cut-off date for the general elections.
The PTI official also criticised the ECP for its dilly-dallying tactics to announce a specific poll date, demanding of the electoral body to avoid deviating from the Constitution.
In a statement, the PTI leader said that the ECP, through its officials, was trying to use technical reasons as an excuse to avoid announcement of the exact elections date, adding that the system of Pakistan was built on the foundations of democracy. Hence, he said, the ECP should focus on exercising its constitutional duty to conduct fair and transparent elections within the constitutionally defined framework.
Though the Constitution made it mandatory to hold polls within 90 days after the dissolution of the National Assembly, the ECP selected the last week of January for polling on grounds that the previous coalition government had notified the census results just days before dissolving the assembly and the decision made it mandatory to complete delimitation exercise before holding polls.
“The electoral body is not willing to give constitutional rights of vote to 240 million after the dissolution of the National Assembly on Aug 9,” the spokesperson said. He flayed the ECP for adopting the approach of “criminal negligence” towards the serious efforts of the president of the country to ensure polls within the constitutionally defined time limit.
“The entire nation was in great anxiety pertaining to the electoral watchdog’s attempts to rob the nation of their right to vote under the guise of technical tricks and misinterpretation of the Constitution,” the PTI spokesperson said.
He went on to say that the ECP should immediately drop the shameful efforts to dig the grave of democracy and make Pakistan weak internally and the land of lawlessness before the world and should give the poll date within 90 days.
In a statement, PPP Secretary General Nayyar Hussain Bukhari said that the ECP should give the date and schedule and the interim government should assist it in holding free, fair, and transparent polls in the country.
The PPP secretary general said that the doors of negotiations were never closed in politics, adding that the PPP formed an alliance with its rivals for the sake of democracy and the Constitution.
He added that the PPP even signed the Charter of Democracy with the PML-N in the recent past.
He said that the PPP did not want to increase bitterness but it could not work with the groups that were enemies of the state and state institutions — an apparent reference to the PTI and the May 9 incidents. Bukhari said that the PTI leadership had been disqualified, adding that the party also did not hold intra-party elections.
Bukhari said that PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif went abroad on the recommendation of the doctors of Imran Khan’s hospital and on the order of the judiciary.
He said that Nawaz should come to Pakistan and play his political role.
In addition, he said revenge in the name of accountability was not new for the PPP, adding that PPPP President Asif Ali Zardari served a long jail-term without being awarded any punishment before being acquitted by the judiciary in the cases.