Advisor to Prime Minister on Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Qamar Zaman Kaira said on Tuesday that it was a constitutional duty of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), and not of the government or any other institution, to announce the date for elections in the country.
Addressing a press conference at Governor’s House, he said that only the ECP could announce the election date, adding that as per the country’s parliamentary system, crucial decisions could be taken by the federal government. The role of governors was to implement the decisions, made by the provincial governments, he added. He said that as per the Constitution, the general election should be held within 90 days after dissolution of the assemblies, but at the same time, it was also a constitutional clause that only caretaker governments would ensure holding of elections.
He mentioned that after dissolution of the provincial assembly of Punjab, no consensus was reached on appointment of a caretaker chief minister; therefore, the ECP had to appoint the caretaker CM. Now it was a responsibility of the ECP, being a constitutional body, to take other relevant decisions, he added. The advisor said that transparent electoral process could not be ensured if elections were held only in two provinces, and there were no elections for the National Assembly and two other provinces. He said that the ECP or courts had complete authority to take any decision on elections in the country.
Qamar Zaman Kaira said that it was a need of the hour to bring about reforms in various sectors, including the political system, electoral process and the mechanism for appointment of judges, to bridge loopholes and end anomalies in the law. He said that courts’ decisions should be respected, but criticism could be done on the judicial decisions. Regarding PTI chief’s bail, Kaira said that Imran Khan had appeared before the court after a long drama and creating chaos. Later on, he got the protective bail. However, he added, his behaviour was questionable, as to how come an accused could appear before a court in the form of a rally. The advisor said that Imran Khan’s ‘Jail Bharo Tehreek’ [court arrest movement] would prove to be a failure, as leaders like Imran Khan could not run such sort of campaigns.
The advisor said that fascism sort of attitude should be discouraged in politics, adding that it was time for politicians to look into their mistakes and bring reforms in political system as the country was passing through difficult times. He also stressed the need for rooting out the causes of terrorism, saying that the people of Pakistan, along with the security forces, had rendered great sacrifices in the war against terrorism. He said the issue should not be politicised by anyone. “We are proud of our martyrs who laid down their lives in the war against terrorism,” he asserted.
To a question, Qamar Zaman Kaira said that general election should not be delayed and held during the current year 2023. But if there was any anomaly or issue, it should be addressed first for holding transparent elections. He said that population census would be completed within next two months, which could help identify proper representation of people in the electoral process. To another query, the advisor said that the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) coalition government was aware of inflation, but it had to take difficult decisions to steer the country out of crises and fulfill the commitments, made by the previous PTI government with the International Monetary Fund. He said structural reforms would soon be in place to provide relief to the common man and target those who either did not pay or pay less taxes.
Kaira said that the PDM government had sacrificed its political capital for betterment of the country, as it took difficult decisions for the future of coming generations, adding that all-out efforts were being made to provide maximum relief to masses. PPP senior leader Chaudhry Manzoor Ahmad was also present.