KARACHI: Sticking to its demand for general elections within 90 days, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Friday claimed it had agreed to approve the digital census results at the Council of Common Interests (CCI) — which has now become an excuse to delay polls — only after assurances that the move would not cause any delay in the polls.
Hinting that the party may take a “legal course” for its principled stand if its last attempt to convince the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on August 29 to meet the 90-day constitutional deadline remained unsuccessful, PPP leader Nayyar Bukhari said the next central executive committee meeting of the party to be held in Lahore in September would announce a final strategy.
The former Senate chairman was addressing the media along with his party colleagues at Bilawal House after the party’s CEC meeting in Karachi.
At the presser, the PPP leaders sounded more aggressive over the demand after the ECP’s announcement last week that the process of fresh delimitation of National and provincial assembly constituencies would be completed by December 14 — over a month beyond the constitutionally-mandated deadline for conducting general elections in the country.
Party claims census results approved only after assurance move wouldn’t delay elections
Mr Bukhari, also a former Pakistan Bar Council general secretary, elaborated that Section 17 of Elections Act, 1997 calls for fresh delimitation after approval of census, but after the dissolution of the assemblies on prime minister’s advice on August 9, Article 224 of the constitution became operative that calls for holding of elections within 90 days. “Now in this situation, no law can overwrite the Constitution.
“The Constitution is supreme and there should be general elections within 90 days. There’s no ambiguity and doubt,” he said, adding that the CEC reaffirmed its stance to stand by the Constitution, which would be violated if polls weren’t held within 90 days.
Former chief minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, who was representing Sindh at CCI that gave a nod to the digital census results, claimed: “It was conveyed to everyone before the CCI meeting that the approval of the census wouldn’t cause any delay in the polls. That’s why we agreed to approve it with consensus.”
He said when the census numbers were shared, it was clear that there was going to be no increase in the number of seats and no amendment in the constitution would be needed. “We only wanted elections in 90 days. Fresh delimitation was never a subject in this whole scenario,” he added.
PPP leader Sherry Rehman also referred to the discussion at the CEC meeting, where the PPP leaders were cautious about the fallouts. She said the recent actions of the caretaker government in the centre “are beyond their mandate”.
“We are only worried that these caretakers shouldn’t become chair-takers,” she remarked.
“[W]e are hearing about the plans [of the caretakers] to look into the Constitution or making some committee to review different laws. With due respect, it’s not your mandate. You are here only to invest your energy and time for the timely elections in three months.”
She said the caretaker setup should pass their time with dignity and put efforts in maintaining a good economic condition.
Published in Dawn, August 26th, 2023