• Says financial situation needs to be fixed first
• Punjab also ‘ready for elections’, but no date given

PESHAWAR/LAHORE: Hinting at a possible delay in holding elections, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Ghulam Ali on Friday linked fresh polls with improvement of the province’s security and economic situation.

Talking to journalists, Mr Ali also said political forces should focus on finding solutions to fix the financial and security situation and not the elections.

While referring to terrorist attacks in the tribal areas, Mr Ali wondered whether elections could be held in Waziris­tan, Bannu and Lakki Marwat.

“If a province demands to conduct a census first or intelligence agencies advise to postpone elections then how will the elections be held?” he asked.

He said although he wants free and fair elections, it’s not in his hand to hold or delay elections.

“In this situation … institutions, intelligence agencies, establishment and the ECP, will decide [when to hold elections].”

“400 tribal elders have requested that elections should be held after three to four months,” Geo News quoted the governor as saying.

He added tribal elders — belonging to merged districts — demanded a fresh census before the elections.

With the assembly dissolved in the province and a caretaker setup in place, the governor is bound by the Constitution to give a date for the polls no more than 90 days after the dissolution of the assembly, as per Article 105(3), read with Articles 224 and 224(A), of the Constitution.

Mr Ali’s remarks on Friday came in the backdrop of mounting PTI pressure to announce a date for the elections.

The governor said law and order issues should be add­ressed ahead of the provincial polls, according to Geo News.

He stated that he was approached by industrialists from across the province who want solutions to financial, industrial and other relevant issues. “They are less focused on elections.”

In response to a question about PTI’s concerns over not being taken into the loop on the issue of caretaker cabinet, Mr Ali said he warned the previous government against dissolving the assembly.

“You are all aware … I repeatedly asked them not to dissolve the legislature. Who left the government,” the governor questioned.

Earlier on Wednesday, the ECP had reached out to caretaker governments in Punjab and KP, proposing dates for the elections.

It suggested elections be held between April 9 and 13 in Punjab, and in KP between April 15 and 17.

Punjab ‘ready for polls’

Punjab Caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi on Friday said his government was ready to hold free and fair elections in the province.

In his meeting with Governor Balighur Rahman, Mr Naqvi said the provincial administration would perform its duties impartially and the constitutional role would be performed within the framework of the election commission.

Saying that law and order was the government’s priority, the caretaker chief minister said police have been given a free hand to ensure law and order.

Punjab’s provincial assembly stood dissolved as of Jan 14, but the governor was yet to issue a date for the elections.

Governor Rehman has not given any reasons for not announcing the date but reiterated that the constitutional process would be followed.

“Adherence to the law is my priority. The constitutional process is going on. So far nothing has been done against the Constitution,” the governor said.

President Arif Alvi has also warned the federal government against delaying the elections in Punjab and KP.

“There is no justification to postpone elections under the Constitution. The government and relevant institutions must ensure elections (in Punjab and KP) are held within the time frame given in the Constitution,” the president had said.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan has alleged that Mr Naqvi had been “installed by the ECP” to make sure that elections are not held in Punjab in 90 days.

Published in Dawn, January 28th, 2023



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