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That “a picture is worth a thousand words” (an adage in multiple languages meaning that complex and sometimes multiple ideas can be conveyed by a single still image) is a fact that seems to have found its best expression from the photograph of the meeting between President of Pakistan Dr Arif Alvi, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja, Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan and four ECP (Election Commission of Pakistan) members at the Awan-e-Sadr or the Presidency on Thursday.

We all know that they were there to reach conclusion on a firm date for general election on the orders of the apex court. Finally, they set Feb 8 2024 as the date in this regard. We also know that the CEC and AGP had arrived, albeit reluctantly, at the Presidency.

Calling on the President was something that seemed to have peeved them. Although they didn’t express vexation, their discomfort was clearly expressed in their body language.

In a nutshell, it was a kind of admission on the part of the head of ECP and the principal legal officer who represents the State that they were wrong insofar as their approach to the office of the President and his constitutional mandate or power was concerned.

They had been adding to political uncertainty in the country by continuously showing ambiguity about the election date and humiliating the President, creating doubts about the fairness and transparency of the upcoming polls. In my view, the Supreme Court deserves accolades for successfully brokering “truce” between the Presidency and ECP.

The latter is now required to take every possible step in order to ensure fair, free and transparent elections in the country. The caretaker or interim setup too has a profound responsibility on its shoulders: it must help ECP do its job independently or without any intervention so as to ensure a level playing field for all the contestants, including a seemingly beleaguered Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

Naseer Janjua (Lahore)

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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