Polls in Jan?

Notwithstanding uncertainty, there is at least a fair idea when the general elections will be held.

Notwithstanding uncertainty, there is at least a fair idea when the general elections will be held. The Election Commission of Pakistan’s formal submission that the nation can go to polls in the last week of January 2023 will now be up for debate. The pronounced date exceeds the constitutionally mandated period of 90 days, since the day the legislature was dissolved. The electoral watchdog, however, is not moved as it has its own interpretation of law, and argues that it is incumbent upon it to delimit the constituencies under Section 17(2) of the Elections Act after the official notification of census results. This fixation has once again landed it in conflict with the Presidency, which had proposed the probable date for ballot on November 6. Not sure of how tweaks shall be made in making it in conformity with the dictates of the Constitution, a verbal brawl seems around the corner.

The gravity of the situation as far as holding elections is gathering volatility. Now almost all political parties, with the exception of PML-N, are on the same page and demanding elections within the 90-day timeframe. Likewise, the lawyers’ movement has added a new impetus to the demand as they are quite clear that the ECP tactics to hide behind an act of law by showing defiance to the Constitution is nothing but a ploy. How this gravitates in days and weeks to come is anybody’s guess as political instability iced with economic slump is leading to frustration on the streets. The spiraling prices of essential commodities as well as the exorbitant energy bills might lead to political and administrative revulsion.

This ordeal is in need of being addressed in a congenial manner. It’s time for a judicial review and for all stakeholders, especially the ECP and the Supreme Court, to brainstorm a solution. As per Constitution, it’s the writing on the wall; but if the mechanism to hold polls is literally impossible then a lawful outcome has to be choreographed. The syndrome of non-communication on this pivotal issue will lead to more confusion and chaos.

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