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EDITORIAL: Like the lawyers who have been meeting former prime minster and PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) Chairman Imran Khan in jail, his sister Aleema Khan told journalists on Wednesday that he is in good spirits though he has lost a lot of weight.

Expectedly, referring to his trial inside the jail in the cipher case, she termed it a conspiracy to keep her brother behind bars for a long time on “fabricated” charges. She also rubbished rumours going around about Khan’s secret meetings (with representatives of certain quarters), saying no one had come to him with any offer of a deal, and that he was surprised to hear about such speculations.

However, what she spoke of next may not sit easily with President Arif Alvi with whom, she said, Khan was disappointed for his failure to discharge his constitutional duty of announcing an election date despite the dissolution of the National Assembly in August last.

Given the context, the PTI leader’s disappointment with the President is quite understandable. Notwithstanding the outgoing Parliament’s amendment to the Election Act empowering the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to fix a date for general elections — which it has kept delaying — the Constitution assigns that responsibility to the President.

Article 48(5) of the Constitution clearly states that where the President dissolves the National Assembly, like in the present instance, he shall “appoint a date, not later than ninety days from the date of the dissolution, for the holding of a general election to the Assembly.” President Alvi did give a date, after considerable indecisiveness, in a letter to the ECP. But he ‘proposed’ instead of ‘determining’ November 6 as the date by which general elections need to be held.

The electoral body having amply demonstrated that it cared little about violating the Constitution or defying the Supreme Court’s order to hold elections to the dissolved Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies, true to form ignored his proposal. But why did the President not act promptly and firmly regardless of its predictable outcome? One explanation could be his inability to withstand invisible pressures from the usual quarters.

That though shouldn’t have worried him considering that had it been possible to replace him the PDM (Pakistan Democratic Movement) coalition government would have lost no time to do that. Another reason for his unassertive stance, cited by some willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, is that being one of the founding members of the PTI and a close confidante of Imran Khan, as head of the State representing the unity of the federation, he wanted to avoid being seen pushing the PTI’s demand for elections.

However, President Alvi had also acted in a confusing manner regarding the Official Secrets (Amendment) Bill, and Pakistan Army Act (Amendment) Bill, the former ostensibly designed to incriminate Imran Khan along with his senior party colleague Shah Mehmood Qureshi and others.

After considerable silence on the two bills’ status, the President posted a statement on X (then Twitter) swearing by God that he had not signed them “as I disagreed with these laws”, and tried to clarify his position saying he had asked his staff to return them unsigned within the stipulated time to make them ineffective (since by then the Assembly stood dissolved). Still, his belated account raised many eyebrows. Whether at the back of it all has been a personal weakness or some other considerations, only time will tell.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023


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KU Oct 09, 2023 11:59am
IK is surrounded by the big boys league, just like the nation, justice or due process of law are tools to keep every hope or any kind of justice nipped in the bud.
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