Current AffairsPakistanPolitics

Top court to hear plea for holding elections simultaneously today

ISLAMABAD: A three-member Supreme Court bench will hear a petition on Friday (today), requesting the top court to order that elections be held on the same day across the country.

The bench will be headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhtar.

The petition filed by a citizen, Sardar Kashif Khan, nominated the federal government, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), and major political parties as respondents.

The petition states it would be “in the interests of justice and equity as well as fulfilment of the constitutional imperatives (and balancing of competing constitutional requirements) if the general elections of National Assembly and all four provincial assemblies were held together rather than in piecemeal”.

If elections across the country were held on the same day, they would be done under caretaker setups which would “ensure that the general elections are carried out honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with law”.

“Having political governments in power in the provinces when general elections are being held for the National Assembly has the potential to adversely affect the National Assembly election more than in the inverse situation since provincial governments have operational control of all day-to-day affairs in the respective NA constituencies (other than those in ICT),” the petition added.

Moreover, holding elections simultaneously would save billions of rupees and the expenses could be included in the budget for the upcoming year.

The armed forces and police would also only be required once instead of multiple times, allowing them to devote more time to their principal duties, it stated. The move would free up law enforcement agencies to focus on improving the country’s law and order situation instead.

The petition contended that elections to the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) assemblies would be held based on the results of the 2017 census while those to the National, Sindh and Balochistan assemblies would be conducted on the latest census figures. “Such a situation should preferably be avoided as it could also lead to unforeseen complications,” it urged.

It pointed out that the difference in the date previously ordered by the apex court for holding polls in Punjab and the one suggested by the government in October was “only a few months so there was no significant harm or delay”.

The petition further said that the parliament could address the issues of delaying the Punjab and KP polls by passing a constitutional amendment.

The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM)-led government and the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) held multiple rounds of talks on the directives of the Supreme Court to try and build a consensus on a date for the elections.

Both sides agreed to hold elections on the same day across the country but failed to evolve consensus on the date of the polls. 

Yesterday, the Imran Khan-led PTI submitted a report to the Supreme Court on negotiations with the PDM government, requesting the top court to ensure implementation on its April 4 judgement regarding holding elections to the Punjab Assembly on May 14.

In the report, the PTI — the main opposition party — apprised the apex court of progress on negotiations, saying it held three rounds of talks with the team of ruling PDM, an alliance of 13 political parties, in line with the commitment made to the top court in the Punjab elections delay case.

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