ISLAMABAD: Member of the ruling alliance and the opposition PTI offered differing views after the Supreme Court ordered political parties on Thursday to decide the question of elections within a week, with the PTI supporting the involvement of the court for the sake of “legal cover”, and the coalition exp­ressed reservations over the decisions of the superior judiciary.

In a media talk outside the court, PTI spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry supported the idea of dialogue to take things forward, but said there was a need to first bring down political temperatures to create a conducive environment for talks.

The fundamental condition of the PTI was that the negotiations should not “stray away from the Constitution”, he said, adding that the Supreme Court issued a good order as it kept the date of May 14 for elections intact.

According to Mr Chaudhry, the date would not be postponed under any circumstances as the court had fixed a clear timeframe for negotiations over polls that needed to be completed within a week.

However, he expressed concern over the crackdown on PTI workers and termed it detrimental to dialogue efforts. He claimed that 3,500 PTI workers were arrested and added differences between the government and opposition continued to increase because of the “senseless violence”.

“We have connections with each other, we are parliamentarians and we meet each other and we can have some sort of negotiations with them but it is not possible when such violence is being inflicted upon us,” he said, urging the government to lower political temperature to kick start talks.

Speaking about the April 27 deadline set by the SC, PTI stalwart Shah Mehmood Qureshi told media persons that the courts have given a date and “whatever we have to do, we have to do it” without jumping the deadline.

He, however, added that the developments in court would be discussed with the party its chief. “We will return after discussing it with our leader,” he said.

Concern over verdicts

On the other hand, Railways Minister Saad Rafique expressed reservations over previous court decisions, saying that consultation among allied parties in the government was underway to resolve the issue.

A decision has not been reached on whether to pursue legal recourse or explore alternative avenues to address the matter, APP quoted him as saying in a media talk outside the Supreme Court.

The minister noted that any deviation from holding elections simultaneously in all four federating units and the federal capital could have severe implications and complicated issues. According to Mr Rafique, timely and synchronised elections across the country were key to maintaining national unity as per civil society organisations and the Election Commission of Pakistan.

He added that the government had submitted its point of view on the application given by a citizen requesting simultaneous provincial and federal elections.

‘Elections for all’

Meanwhile, Jamaat-i-Islami leader Sirajul Haq said the Pakistan Democratic Movement and the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf were poles apart, but elections were not limited to these two players alone.

“Every party has a point of view but the election is for everyone. I told the SC and the CJ that the ball that they have kept with themselves should be given to the politicians so that they can decide when and where the elections should take place,” he told media persons.

“Our advice is that the Centre and provinces should have a caretaker government because if PDM at the Centre then fair polls would not take place,” he added. In case, the Punjab elections take place on May 14 and a new government comes to power and conducts general elections, even then elections will not be transparent, he added.

Published in Dawn, April 21st, 2023

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