ELECTIONS will be held on time, the president declared on Sunday. Among the many rumours doing the rounds about Pakistani politics, the latest has been that polls would be delayed, allowing the same parliament to vote Mr Zardari in for another five-year term. A section of the press had sparked off a buzz that overnight was being quoted by prominent politicians, with the PML-N issuing warnings against such a strategy. There was speculation that the MQM’s proposed national conference was designed to garner support for the move. In just a couple of days the unsubstantiated rumour became an example of the frenetic speculation about politics that has gripped Pakistan and the power the media now has to whip up anxiety about the country’s affairs. The president’s remarks should put this particular source of anxiety to rest.

When it comes to campaign issues, though, the party will have to step up its game. The president’s speech attacked the opposition in Punjab, didn’t own up to the government’s obvious failures, contained promises that are unlikely to be fulfilled in the next few months and focused on the PPP’s contribution to democracy. There may be merit to the last argument, but it will go only so far. The energy-related riots in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa over the weekend were just one indication of the anger that awaits the party outside Sindh. To give a national electorate something to vote for, it will have to make a more convincing case for itself.

Mr Zardari also said that polls will be free and fair. But to be truly representative they would need to reflect the state of the population today. Although new electoral rolls from Nadra are expected, the preliminary ones left out millions of people and listed millions of others at the wrong addresses, largely because of migration. Meanwhile, the Election Commission secretary said yesterday that a new delimitation of constituencies will not be possible in time for the polls, which means seats will continue to be assigned based on the 1998 census. At the root of this delay is the politicisation of the house listing of 2011, which should have formed the basis for a full-fledged population count. Sadly our political parties contributed little besides contesting the results, and the government failed to push the census through. All of which means the next polls will assign seats without accounting for the large-scale internal migrations of the last 10-plus years. Elections might just be held on time, if the ruling party sticks to its word. But as it stands, a general election may not represent the true demographics of Pakistan today.

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Comments (8)

Taj Muhammad
July 31, 2012 1:02 pm
election should be on time some that the public get rid of the corrupt politicians.
July 31, 2012 6:32 am
"ELECTIONS will be held on time", a statement like this from the president means exactly the opposite.
M. Asghar
July 31, 2012 9:17 am
As the Editorial suggests a totally irresponsable merry-go-round on all the leveis of authority is spining he counhtry and its people out of all hope..
M. Anwar Qureshi
July 31, 2012 10:06 am
I will vote for PML-N if they control law and order situation in Punjab; we have robberies and dacoities going on "on daily basis" unchecked and uncontrolled; what for we pay to POLICE; prices rising trend is horrible and unbearable and difficult to survive; where is the local Administration. All politicians are working for their own self-serving purposes and not for general masses. ALLAH may protect our country, and save us from these corrupt governments at federal and provincial levels.
Iftikhar Husain
July 31, 2012 10:49 am
It is high time that election is called and fairly conducted. The editorial has correctly pointed out that the government will try to delay the election as much as is possible that will be dangerous for the country. The government failure to provide the basic living facilities to the population demands a new set up.
Cyrus Howell
July 31, 2012 5:09 am
If elections are not held on time every power station outside Islamabad will be burnt to the ground.
Abid Soni
July 31, 2012 5:43 am
In Islamabad too as people r fed up with govt.'s false claims and discrimination in providing equitable energy distribution.
August 1, 2012 8:26 am
Yes the election will based on 1998 nased census. but at the ri8 time ... interesting...
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