Despite senior journalist Imtiaz Alam’s; the leader of civil society and SAFMA; sincere efforts to end the current political and institutional crisis, the matter has been stalled. However, I think they have worked with respected personalities like Mujeeb-ur-Rehman Shami, President of CPNE Kazim Khan, Allama Sadique Azhar, and others to achieve the goal that Ahmed Faraz had described in his poetry:
In an environment where the federal government is focused on a campaign, leaving its constitutional role, and in the most intense political environment, the federal government’s attitude is not conciliatory but confrontational, which is preventing the possibility of a grand political dialogue. In this environment of tension and pressure, despite having face-to-face meetings and even sitting together on one table, the participants showed stubbornness in not accepting each other’s point of view. The result was that the judicial system, which is supposed to be the legislature, was lost in the chaos, and both sides ended up losing. “Six of one, half a dozen of the other.” However, in recent days, there has been a glimmer of hope in the progress made. Although progress is slow, the matter has moved forward. The Pakistan People’s Party has taken a bold step towards political negotiations. Bilawal Bhutto has taken the lead and initiated talks to gain the trust of coalition parties in the first phase. In this regard, a meeting of the heads of coalition parties was also requested. Nationalist parties and MQM supported political dialogue, but Maulana Fazlur Rehman of the JUI-F did not take any action and was not in favour of dialogue with Imran Khan or the Tehreek-e-Insaf party in any way.
Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif gave an unconditional offer for negotiations, but there are significant differences within his party on this matter. A large number of senior party leaders are not willing to sit at the same table with Imran Khan. Despite this, it seems that someone has given a signal that enough is enough and a way out needs to be found. The upcoming signal is perhaps such that neither side can reject it, so the talks are underway and “once the talks start, they will go far.” On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ordered the Election Commission to provide 21 billion rupees for elections in Punjab. However, the State Bank did not provide the funds on the last day, and the Election Commission submitted a report to the Supreme Court stating that the Treasury Department did not provide the funds. They also stated that they did not have the funds to publish ballot papers, image-based voting lists, and other arrangements. It was also mentioned that 3,66,000 security personnel are required for the election, but they are not being provided. In such a situation, it is impossible for us to hold the election.
It was also stated that if elections are not held on the same day throughout the country, it could lead to anarchy. Transparency in elections could also be in doubt in any one province. We are always ready to hold elections, but means must be provided. This situation was anticipated on a Monday when the standing committee threw the issue of funds for the election commission to the National Assembly court, and the National Assembly halted the release of funds. The deputy governor of the State Bank informed the standing committee that the funds had been separated as per the court order, but they did not have the authority to transfer the funds to the election commission. This whole scenario was shattered when it was announced that the elections would be held on the same day throughout the country in October, as important government officials including the Prime Minister continued to express their views on this matter.
According to assumptions, in a very important meeting held amidst the current state of unrest and uncertainty, the drop scene of a drama has taken place. The Chief Justice and two members of the bench, who head the Election Commission bench in Punjab, held a lengthy meeting with heads of secret agencies. While there is no confirmed information available, it is speculated that the meeting might have discussed the security situation and the war against terrorism. It is assumed that in the light of the letter sent by the Secretary of Defense to the Supreme Court bench, requesting not to provide security for the elections, the meeting might have discussed this issue as well. In this regard, reference to the army chief General Syed Asim Munir’s address to the parliament in camera session of his security briefing is also necessary, in which he said that the power of decisions belongs to the elected representatives of the people, and announced that they will stay away from political affairs or interference in government matters.This was actually a declaration of intention to stay away from political affairs of the military and not interfere in decision-making or government affairs. It is believed that the military leadership may have also had some discussions with the Prime Minister regarding political bargaining, but the matter has not yet been settled. And there is still some time left in the drop scene for Nawaz Sharif himself is not in favour of negotiations with Imran Khan, which is why the matter is still at a standstill.
Previously, the members of the Civil Society also met with Imran Khan and tried to persuade him to abandon his demand for early elections. They requested a meeting with the Prime Minister, but it was not granted, which hindered their efforts. However, they still did their work. Amir Jamaat-e-Islami Siraj ul Haq suggested during his meeting with Imran Khan that he should withdraw his demand for elections within 90 days, but he did not agree and responded that it is a constitutional requirement. During his meeting with the Prime Minister, he advised him to abandon his anti-election stance in October and said that it is in the best interests of the country to hold a nationwide election on a mutually agreed date. However, he was not willing to back down from his position, so the issue remains unresolved. But now it seems that the hurdles that were in the way have been removed, and “the chickens have come home to roost.”
In the current situation, Imran Khan’s demand for holding elections in 90 days and the Supreme Court’s decision regarding this matter are both completely valid according to the constitution. However, the government may also have some compulsions in this regard, although it wants to take some measures for public relief before going into the election campaign, which would make them popular among the masses. But there may also be some administrative issues that cannot be ignored. This is also a constitutional issue. When a member dies or resigns, a by-election is held in that constituency for the remaining term of the assembly. However, the question of holding an election for the entire five-year term of the dissolved assembly is questionable. In this regard, constitutional experts and scholars will have to find a middle ground so that the interpretation of the constitution is not exaggerated, and personal and political interests are not taken into account, but rather based on ground realities.