Election uncertainty

Published October 27, 2023

DESPITE the Election Commission of Pakistan’s assurance that polls will be held at the end of January — which was repeated yesterday — why is the head of state not sure that the ECP will deliver? The question has been hanging heavy on the minds of those with a keen eye on the political goings-on in Pakistan ever since President Arif Alvi, during an interview, responded to a question asking whether he was confident elections will be held by end January with the suggestion that he wasn’t. He remarked, “The supreme judiciary has taken notice of the matter, [and] I expect a very reasonable decision from it”, which suggests that the matter is far from settled in his mind. The next day, the ECP issued a press statement dismissing the possibility of any further delay in the general election. It stressed that there should be no doubt that it will announce a firm schedule for elections as soon as the final delimitations are announced. “The Election Commission is fully prepared to hold elections under its action plan,” it assured.

The stakes are enormous for everyone involved, and it is not without reason that political parties are growing jittery. PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, who seems to be enjoying the state’s favour, recently threw his weight behind the ECP. He described it as “the authorised institution to announce the election date” while talking to the media before his flight to Pakistan. It is unclear what the context was, but the timing of the remark seemed odd, considering that the ECP had by then already given its revised timeline for the election. With the paranoia refusing to dissipate, doubts regarding the election are expected to linger. The situation has been complicated by the fact that the state appears to be leaning too heavily to one side. The PPP believes that the caretaker set-ups have been partial to the PML-N. This “lopsidedness of caretaker governments is becoming evident with each passing day,” it recently said. The PTI agrees. An election conducted in such conditions would be very difficult to legitimise. Perhaps this is why some feel it may be put off. Considering that the ECP seems committed to its timeline, it must consider intervening to provide a more level playing field to the contesting parties. Giving all candidates an equal opportunity may help erase their misgivings.

Published in Dawn, October 27th, 2023

Opinion

Rule by law

Rule by law

‘The rule of law’ is being weaponised, taking on whatever meaning that fits the political objectives of those invoking it.

Editorial

Isfahan strikes
Updated 20 Apr, 2024

Isfahan strikes

True de-escalation means Israel must start behaving like a normal state, not a rogue nation that threatens the entire region.
President’s speech
20 Apr, 2024

President’s speech

PRESIDENT Asif Ali Zardari seems to have managed to hit all the right notes in his address to the joint sitting of...
Karachi terror
20 Apr, 2024

Karachi terror

IS urban terrorism returning to Karachi? Yesterday’s deplorable suicide bombing attack on a van carrying five...
X post facto
Updated 19 Apr, 2024

X post facto

Our decision-makers should realise the harm they are causing.
Insufficient inquiry
19 Apr, 2024

Insufficient inquiry

UNLESS the state is honest about the mistakes its functionaries have made, we will be doomed to repeat our follies....
Melting glaciers
19 Apr, 2024

Melting glaciers

AFTER several rain-related deaths in KP in recent days, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority has sprung into...