PPP will have to take a stand if polls are delayed, says Khursheed Shah

Published August 6, 2023
Federal Minister for Water Resources Syed Khursheed Shah during an interview with Dawn News. — DawnNewsTV
Federal Minister for Water Resources Syed Khursheed Shah during an interview with Dawn News. — DawnNewsTV

Federal Minister for Water Resources Syed Khursheed Shah has said that the PPP will have to “take a stand” if general elections were delayed.

The government has announced that assemblies will be dissolved on August 9, following which elections should be held within 90 days of the end of the assemblies’ tenure.

However, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said during an interview earlier this week that elections would be held on the basis of the latest census, while the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has already expressed its inability to hold polls on the basis of the new population count within the stipulated time as it will have to conduct a fresh delimitation of constituencies in this case.

A day earlier, the Council of Common Interests (CCI) approved the results of the 2023 digital census, making it almost certain that general elections may not be held this year as a fresh delimitation, which may take months, has now become compulsory.

Although some of the ruling allies, including the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), earlier opposed holding the next general elections under the fresh census, its silence in the CCI meeting has raised questions.

In an interview on Dawn News programme ‘Doosra Rukh’, which was aired on Saturday night, Shah — when asked about when he saw elections taking place — said that he initially believed that elections would take place on time in accordance with the Constitution.

However, he said that he had concerns after recent statements regarding polls being held according to the 2023 census. The interview was recorded prior to the CCI’s approval of results of the 2023 census.

The minister noted that the Constitution clearly stated that the delimitation had to take place, a process which took four months. “So I don’t see elections happening on November 12 or 13,” he said.

He added that the PPP would “take a stand” if there was a delay in polls.

When asked about the progress in the appointment of the caretaker premier, Shah said that it was important to follow the Constitution.

He said that typically committees are formed to select the name of the caretaker prime minister. “Almost all parties are [included in the committee]. They have finalised five names at a committee level, not the leadership level,” he said.

Asked whether the names included those of politicians, Shah said: “Politicians and politics are separate. They may understand politics, may have direct or indirect links to some party but will not be an active member of any party nor be a major leader of any party.”

When it was pointed out that former finance minister Hafeez Sheikh fell in this category, the minister said that the ruling coalition did not want someone who “brought a briefcase and then picked it up and left”. At the same time, he asserted that he had respect for Sheikh.

Giving the example of himself, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Senator Raza Rabbani, he said that if an active politician from any party was appointed then there would be fears of “rigging”.

“This is impossible that Syed Khursheed Shah is from PPP and does not [work] in their favour. I will favour, I am openly saying it […] this is but natural. It should be accepted,” he said.

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