The PPP on Wednesday responded to JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s recent reservations about holding elections during what he described as a worsening security situation by suggesting that opposition to polls stemmed from a “fear of the public’s verdict”.
PPP Secretary Information Faisal Kareem Kundi’s statement follows the JUI-F chief’s recent statement on the feasibility of holding elections amid a “deteriorating” security situation.
This isn’t the first instance of Rehman expressing reservations about the prospect of polls. During a rally in Larkana last week, he emphasised his party’s readiness for elections but underscored the necessity of a “peaceful environment” to ensure voters’ safety while exercising their right to franchise.
In response to the JUI-F chief’s remarks, Kundi expressed surprise, stating: “Maulana has a government in the KP and we have no idea what feasible environment he is looking for.”
Kundi was referring to the KP governor, Haji Ghulam Ali, being a relative of Maulana Fazl.
He added: “People who fear the verdict from the public court do not want elections to take place.”
Kundi recalled the PPP’s opposition to election delays even after the assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto in 2007. “The PPP competed against terrorists and their supporters in the 2013 and 2018 elections,” he said.
Asserting that elections are the sole remedy for the country’s current issues, he remarked that the nation “believes that the chief justice will ensure elections on time” and claimed that opponents fear the popularity of PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
‘Internal security situation cannot be an excuse’
Separately, PPP Senator Raza Rabbani issued a statement in which he asserted that general election should be held on the scheduled date. However, he did not directly refer to the remarks made by the JUI-F chief.
“The Supreme Court has ruled that it is a continuous constitutional violation, which cannot be perpetuated,” he said while referring to a delay in the polls.
“Any further delay will give rise to a new constitutional violation, as the new parliamentary year of the Senate commences on March 12, 2024, before that half of the Senate will retire,” Rabbani said.
“If the electoral college of the provincial assemblies and the National Assembly is not elected, the Senate will be dysfunctional from March 12, 2024. In such circumstances there will be no Parliament which will be in violation of the Constitution,” he said.
“An internal security situation cannot be an excuse, as elections have been held when countries are even at war,” the senator said, adding that the political instability would further undermine the economy.
He noted that the caretaker government had a mandate of 90 days, which had been “violated” and the Constitution “defaced”.
“Pakistan’s ruling elite should stop playing with the Constitution, for if its writ is systematically dismantled a stage will come when there will be the law of the jungle, which cannot hold the federation together,” he said.
Fazl says peaceful environment a must before election
During a talk with reporters on Tuesday, the JUI-F chief questioned the law and order situation countrywide and said: “Everything is okay in Lahore but not on our side.”
He was asked if the situation was conducive to holding general elections scheduled to be held on February 8. The veteran politician claimed that in many areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, including Tank, Lakki Marwat, and his hometown, D.I. Khan, “unidentified armed people roam in streets at night instead of cops”.
“Our workers are being killed. Can an election be held in such circumstances,” he asked.
While he questioned the deteriorating security situation, the JUI-F leader clarified that his party was ready to contest the elections and provided a safe and “peaceful environment” for the activity.
He said the JUI-F was an ally of PML-N in the last government and the alliance “will continue” in the form of seat adjustment for polls. Rehman also criticised PTI over its recent intra-party elections, saying the activity made it clear that PTI “was not even a political party”.
He said those “forcibly inducted” into the PTI in 2018 parted ways with the party with confessions that they were “compelled to join PTI five years ago”.