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Pakistan

Have polls never been delayed before, asks Sanaullah in joint parliament session

  • Interior Minister objects to holding general and provincial elections separately
Published March 22, 2023

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah asked on Wednesday whether the elections had never been delayed before beyond the Constitutionally given 90-day time, Aaj News reported.

Addressing a joint session of parliament, the minister objected to holding general and provincial elections separately, saying it would create anarchy in the country.

He, however, rejected the notion that the ruling alliance was “running away” from polls, saying the government wanted the polls to be held transparently.

Commenting on the topic of polls, Sanaullah said there were different opinions on elections, and parliament needed guidance from the government and other institutions.

“Regarding the 90-day limit in the Constitution, I mentioned that April 30 is beyond that timeframe but have elections not been held after 90 or 60 days in the past?” Sanaullah asked.

The minister said that in the 2008 elections, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly was dissolved earlier compared to the rest of the provincial legislatures and the National Assembly. “But the KP Assembly election did not occur 30 or 40 days prior.”

He said that polls were postponed after former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s assassination and took place after almost five months.

"The 1988 elections were delayed by five to six months due to flooding in the country," Rana Sana said and called for taking decisions with “wisdom and foresight” as the country was facing a “fitna” that desired chaos.

The minister insisted that the "fitna" could only be stopped through free and fair elections, adding that political and economic stability could not be achieved without doing so.

“The current situation is such that after dissolving the assemblies, it is a constitutional obligation to hold elections within 90 days. Although April 30 is beyond that mandate, and the constitutional condition is not met if elections are held on April 30,” the minister remarked.

He said that the Constitution also stipulated holding “free and fair” elections, adding that it was the electoral watchdog’s responsibility to do so.

Interior Minister's remarks come hours after Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that the Supreme Court would intervene if there were any malicious intentions in conducting “transparent elections” in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

On March 1, the Supreme Court ruled that the elections for Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies should be held within 90 days. It had, however, allowed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to propose a poll date that deviates from the 90-day deadline by the “barest minimum” in case of any practical difficulty.

Subsequently, on Mar 10, the ECP wrote separate letters to the president and the KP governor. In the letter to President Dr Arif Alvi, the electoral watchdog proposed the elections dates between April 30 and May 7. Alvi later announced that elections in Punjab would be held on April 30.

On the other hand, KP Governor Haji Ghulam Ali announced May 28 as the date for polls in the province but later withdrew his decision while calling for “key challenges” to be addressed before a new date is announced.

Comments

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TimeToMovveOn Mar 23, 2023 12:19am
Previously the elections were postponed due to floods or calamities. What issue do you have now to hold free and fair elections? I guess it is because you will lose.
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KhanRA Mar 23, 2023 12:35am
What an idiotic defense. “The constitution has be violated before so why do you care if we violate it now?” And shame on the Establishment for joining in by saying they cannot provide security. PML is just veiled army dictatorship.
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rhp Mar 23, 2023 03:21am
Idiots and jokers all around. They don't even think that, If they themselves do not respect the constitution why should anyone have any regards for the powers of the Government or interior ministry which are derived from the same constitution. Why should anyone even recognise this Government or any of the institutions of Pakistan or should pay taxes or follow any law for that matter.
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BK Mar 23, 2023 05:37am
How low will you go PAK Army? Every day you surprise me! I really struggle to accept that you are such an unpatriotic, unjust and crooked institution! I ask the lower rank army officers and those that still have some love for the motherland to stand against the black sheep, the elite, the corrupt elements in the Army! For a change, put the love of the country before everyone and everything!
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