LAHORE: Awami Muslim League president Sheikh Rashid does not see general elections taking place before November this year.

“The polls cannot be held in time (in July) as is being expected and required under the election law because of expected prolonged litigation on delimitation of at least 100 to 150 constituencies,” he said at a press conference here on Sunday.

Disputes over delimitation would be initially taken up by ordinary courts and then by high courts and the Supreme Court through appeals by either the Election Commission of Pakistan or affected parties and individuals and the process could not be completed by May, he said.

AML head cites lengthy litigations over delimitation as reason for the delay

Meanwhile, Mr Rashid said, audit of five per cent of the census provisional results was also pending which, he believed, also had to be completed before the elections.

He said that accomplishment of these daunting tasks by May seemed impossible and, therefore, the elections could not be held in time, adding at the earliest the polls could be conducted in November and December.

In this backdrop, the AML chief said, he had urged the chief justice of Pakistan to impose a “judicial martial law” so that the elections were held in a way that no one could object to its results.

Referring to the process of consultation between the prime minister and the leader of opposition in the National Assembly over installing a caretaker setup to oversee the election period, he said that the consultation would not be meaningful as he considered PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif and Syed Khursheed Shah as “one person” while PM Khaqan Abbasi was “a protégé of Mr Sharif who would dance to the tune of his boss”.

The AML leader said that Mr Sharif and Pakistan Peoples Party leader Asif Ali Zardari were poles apart but Mr Shah had sympathies with the ousted prime minister and he feared that they could collaborate to install an interim government favouring the ruling party.

He also criticised Mr Sharif’s one-on-one meetings with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (when the former was prime minister) and said that one such attempt by former prime minister Zafarullah Jamali had led to the Balochistan politician’s ouster during the Musharraf era.

Earlier on Wednesday, Mr Rashid had urged the Supreme Court to appoint a caretaker government, even if it had to impose judicial martial law for 90 days, to supervise the coming elections.

Speaking at a press conference, he said that the installation of caretaker prime minister was actually the responsibility of the SC, as the leader of the opposition and the prime minister would not bring forward a suitable individual.

Published in Dawn, March 26th, 2018

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