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EditorialIt’s all about elections

It’s all about elections

In all the turmoil that has engulfed the country, talk about elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa seems to have been put on the back burner. Prior to the incident of May 9, the government was on the back foot. The Supreme Court was quite clear about the holding of elections on May 14 in its April order, and the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) was taking on the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government head-on. The May 9 attacks turned the situation 180 degrees. The clampdown on the PTI was unprecedented. The party is now not fighting for polls but for its survival. Almost the entire leadership was put behind bars and were only released after they parted ways with the PTI.

On the other hand, the Supreme Court, which was hearing the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) review petition against its April order on holding elections in Punjab, had adjourned the hearing for an indefinite period after Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Awan revealed that a new law had been enacted under which a larger bench would hear review petitions. “The president has signed the Supreme Court (Review of Judgements and Orders) Bill, 2023. Under the new law, a larger bench will hear review petitions,” AGP Mansoor Awan had told a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial.

Apart from Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies, which were dissolved in January this year, the tenure of the National Assembly as well as Sindh and Balochistan assemblies are set to end in weeks. But there seem to be no signs of elections. In view of the situation, the Islamabad-based think tank, Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency, known as Pildat, called on the government to hold elections by October as the National Assembly would complete its five-year term on August 12.

Earlier, the Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen) urged political parties to hold a dialogue on addressing the weaknesses in the existing legal framework for elections in the country. It said the political parties should set aside differences for upholding democracy and protecting its integrity through free, fair, and transparent elections, otherwise, the country would remain embroiled in political instability.

Pildat, meanwhile, asked the ECP to prepare itself for general elections by October as it was the commission’s constitutional obligation. “Only a free, fair, and timely election can bring back desperately-needed political stability in Pakistan, keeping in view recent political turmoil and mounting economic troubles facing Pakistan,” the ECP said in a statement. There are rumors that elections might not even be held in October and that an emergency might be declared in the country. Unconfirmed reports speak of the PTI being banned. With around 100 members having left the PTI, there are strong reports of a new party emerging. The name of Jahangir Tareen is once again in the news, whereas the PML-Q is also trying to woo the former PTI members.

In his recent address, the former prime minister, Imran Khan, hinted at the formation of a king’s party.

Whatever game is being played at the moment, it revolves around the general elections. According to political experts, elections would only be held once the electoral situation swings in favor of the present setup. So, will there be elections in October? Keep your fingers crossed.

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