HYDERABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party Sindh president Nisar Ahmed Khuhro has urged the Election Commission of Pakistan to declare that the delimitations it has announced are final in order to discourage ‘some people’ with mala fide intent who do not want general election to be held on Feb 8.

Some parties were preparing to challenge the delimitations in court and some might be using it as a pretext to seek postponement of general elections till their petitions were decided, he said.

Khuhro was speaking at a press briefing at the residence of a local PPP leader here on Friday evening.

He said the forces, which wanted ECP to act like a ‘patwari’ for them in fact tended to undermine credibility of the commission.

Polls had already been delayed after dissolution of two provincial assemblies, hence “the ECP should announce that its delimitations are final,” he said, adding that it was only PPP that did not raise any question over the delimitations despite suffering some losses in rural Sindh.

He said that a street or two would not make any difference in overall delimitations because only a party’s degree of popularity impacted final polls results. The ECP would hold transparent polls, he believed.

He said that the parties which were still in drawing rooms were raising objections over delimitations. PPP had lost its Sanghar, Khairpur and Thatta constituencies in new delimitations yet it was not running away from polls, he said. “PPP will depend on masses to achieve success,” he said while calling for level playing field for all parties.

PPP Sindh vice president Syed Murad Ali Shah, Waqar Mahdi, Saghir Qureshi, Ajiz Dhamra, Ms Shagufta Jumani, Ms Hina Dastagir, Aftab Khanzada and others were also present at the press conference. They addressed later a gathering of party workers held in connection with preparations for Dec 27 death anniversary of Benazir Bhutto in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh Bhutto.

Khuhro dismisses criticism of 18th Amendment

Khuhro said that if Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz intended to further improve the 18th Amendment then it should clarify its position accordingly because the party’s insinuation about bringing amendment to the 18th Amendment had raised PPP’s fears of its complete rollback.

He stressed that any attempt to undermine provincial autonomy on the pretext of changes to the 18th Amendment was unacceptable.

In an apparent reference to PML-N, he said that some parties had included the changes to the 18th Amendment in their manifestos which if carried out would indeed transmute its basic purpose of ensuring maximum provincial autonomy.

There was a mindset that believed provincial autonomy had rendered the ‘centre’ pauper and hence certain departments had still not been devolved by the federal government, he said, adding that these departments too should be devolved to the provinces.

He regretted it was Imran Khan who had said the ‘centre’ had become pauper and now Nawaz Sharif was taking the same position in his party’s manifesto. “If someone says that provincial autonomy will be done away with it will not be accepted,” he said.

“If some improvement is intended then it should be made clear,” he said alluding to PML-N’s claim to complete what it considered ‘the incomplete’ 18th Amendment.

Former chief minister Murad Ali Shah said that it was only PPP, which was running its electoral campaign and PPP chairman was addressing rallies in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa while PML-N leadership just met sardars in a hotel and left Quetta.

He claimed that only weaker parties went for alliances to try to grab major parties’ share and pointed out that PML-N had decided in London not to talk to MQM-P. It was forgone conclusion that PPP would emerge as the largest party in elections and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari would be next premier, he said.

Murad said that it appeared that National Accountability Bureau and Nawaz Sharif had now come to the same page which was evident from speedy disposal of his cases, although NAB used to be a nightmare for him.

He said that PPP believed that false cases must be settled but NAB should also look into other false cases as well. Sharif was a ladla in 2013 and people must remember when results of 2013 polls were yet to finalised he had already declared his victory.

Then, he said, another ladla was thrust upon people in 2018. “But no new ladla will work now and only people’s vote will work,” said the ex-CM.

Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2023

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