PM expects polls ‘soon’ as parties ‘speed up election preparations’

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Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar has said that he expects the poll date to be announced “soon” as political parties go into “election mode”.

The prime minister, while interacting with journalists in the federal capital, reassured that the interim setup is doing its best to facilitate the electoral process from which no political party has been left out.

Last month, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced that general elections in the country would take place in the last week of January 2024 — but the electoral did not give the exact date.

“Can’t comment if level playing field means ensuring a particular party’s win. [We] remember the level playing field of 2018 when the South Punjab front came into being,” the prime minister said while commenting on the issue of equal political space for parties in the country.

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) have been demanding a level playing field, without explaining it much, ahead of the polls.

Earlier in the day, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa — while hearing the petitions seeking timely elections within 90 days of the dissolution of the assemblies — observed that it was “not possible” to meet the 90-day deadline for holding elections.

The apex court has adjourned the hearing till November 2.

It is pertinent to know that the Shehbaz Sharif-led government dissolved the National Assembly on August 9, while Sindh and Balochistan assemblies were also prematurely dissolved to allow the electoral authority to hold elections in the country within 90 days.

Had the assemblies been dissolved on time, the electoral body was constitutionally bound to hold polls in 60 days.

However, the ECP decided against holding polls within the stipulated time as the Council of Common Interest (CCI), days before the dissolution of the assemblies, approved the 7th Population and Housing Census 2023.

The CCI approval made it mandatory for the electoral body to hold elections following fresh delimitations in light of the results of the census — leading to the delay in the polls.

Nawaz ‘political reality’

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif has, ahead of the elections, returned to the country after ending his four-year self-imposed exile in London.

The PML-N believes that his return will provide the party a boost in the polls as the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s 16-month stint in the government did not fare well.

Political parties also raised questions as to how the PML-N supremo, who is a convicted absconder, was provided security by the government. They also alleged that he returned under a deal.

When Nawaz landed in Islamabad for a brief stop, he signed court papers and held consultations with his legal team. He also did his biometric verification for the Islamabad High Court, where his appeals are pending.

Addressing the biometric verification of the PML-N supremo, PM Kakar said that it was the former prime minister’s right as he’s a Pakistani citizen by birth.

“The PML-N supremo is a political reality and his adversaries should face him in politics,” he added.

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