KARACHI: Major political parties have welcomed the announcement of the general elections’ date and hailed it as a ‘positive development’.

The Election Commission of Pakistan, on Thursday, announced that polls will be held on Feb 8, 2024.

PTI, which had been the most vocal in demand for the date, welcomed the ECP’s announcement.

Party’s Senator Syed Ali Zafar also hoped that the elections would not be further delayed.

Information Secretary Raoof Hasan, in a statement shared on social media, welcomed the Supreme Court’s order to the chief election commissioner to meet the president and decide the date. However, he added that mere order “was not enough”.

PTI seeks action against CEC for ‘violating Constitution’

“[CEC] Sikandar Sultan is a contemnor of the Constitution four times over: he failed to hold by-elections to the vacant National Assembly seats; he failed to hold elections for the dissolved provincial assemblies of Punjab and KP; and he delayed the holding of national elections within 90 days of the dissolution of the assembly. He has knowingly and consciously violated the Constitution for which he has rendered himself liable to punishment as prescribed in the Constitution,” the PTI leader claimed.

“He also owes an apology twice over: to the office of the president, who is the supreme commander of the armed forces and a symbol of the federation, and to the whole nation, whose right to vote as enshrined in the Constitution was denied to them,” he said.

Mr Hasan also demanded the Supreme Court punish Mr Raja, saying if he was let off scot-free, “the tradition of violation of the Constitution will become a norm, thus denying people their rights as citizens of the country”.

The PPP, PML-N, MQM-P and other parties have also hailed the ECP’s decision.

“PML-N is the only party ready for elections as we are the first one to invite applications from Nov 1,” party’s spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb, told Dawn.

She added that PML-N had constituted an election cell, a manifesto committee and parliamentary boards in poll preparations.

PML-N leader Irfan Siddiqui told Geo News that the ECP announcement will ensure stability in the country.

“I welcome this development even more because the announcement came from the Supreme Court, which has increased its sanctity,” the PML-N leader said while referring to the earlier proceedings in the apex court.

He said it would be difficult for the ECP to backtrack on this date since the poll date was shared with the country’s top court.

“We believe that elections will take on time,” he added.

PPP’s Nayyer Bukhari has said that his party has been calling for holding timely elections.

Talking to Geo News, the PPP leader, however, added that elections should have been held within 90 days as per the Constitution.

“Unelected individuals or cabinet do not have the right to rule the country…”

Mr Bukhari said the ECP was answerable to the people and the Supreme Court for not holding elections within the 90-day constitutional limit.

MQM-P’s Aminul Haque said democratic traditions should be taken forward, and for that, free and fair elections must be held, Geo News reported.

“MQM-P demands that the failure of the RTS system in 2018 and release of election results after 72 hours should be avoided in the next elections, and all parties should get a level playing field,” said Mr Haque.

Meanwhile, Istehkam-i-Pakistan Party (IPP), the newest political party on the block, hoped ECP would fulfil its constitutional duty of holding free and fair elections, APP reported.

IPP central leader Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan on Thursday said her party welcomed the ECP’s announcement.

Addressing a press conference along with former MPA Mian Mamoon Jafar Tarar in Kullu Tarar area of Hafizabad, she said that to ensure constitutional supremacy, the ECP should provide an ideal environment and atmosphere for the voters to exercise their rights.

Ms Awan said the caretaker government should support the ECP to bring Pakistan to the path of real development and prosperity.

Ikram Junaidi in Islamabad and Zulqernain Tahir in Lahore also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, November 3rd, 2023

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