Wednesday, September 13, 2023
Web Desk

Delimitations part of electoral, constitutional process: caretaker PM

Premier Kakar says interim govt is only there to support and assist ECP in conducting elections

Web Desk
Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar (centre) talking to anchors and journalists in a meeting at the Prime Ministers House on August 31, 2023. — APP
Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar (centre) talking to anchors and journalists in a meeting at the Prime Minister's House on August 31, 2023. — APP

  • Caretaker government 'fully' prepared for elections: PM Kakar.
  • Says ECP’s prerogative to announce the poll date, not president.
  • "Interim govt is only there to support, assist ECP in holding polls."

Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar has voiced his support for the delimitation process, calling it "a part of the electoral and constitutional process", stressing that the government is “fully” prepared for holding general elections.

Speaking to a private news channel on Wednesday, he emphasized that the interim government’s role is only to “support and assist” the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in holding the polls.

“We are fully prepared with regards to the allocation of funds and security situation for ensuring the preservation of the sanctity of the electoral process,” the premier said.

Voicing his support for fresh delimitations, he termed the exercise “a part of the electoral and constitutional process”.

The caretaker prime minister's remarks are to be taken in light of the fact that political parties have been divided over the issues of election date and delimitation, with Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) supporting the holding of elections within 90 days, whereas Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has favoured fresh delimitations — a view supported by former president and PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari as well.

As per the ECP’s schedule, the electoral body will carry out fresh delimitations from September 8 to October 7.

Commenting on the upcoming general elections, PM Kakar said that he hopes that the ECP would thoroughly look into the matter of holding free and fair polls as per the Constitution. He hinted that the electoral authority will “soon” announce the election date.

Meanwhile expressing his views on the prerogative to announce the election date, the interim prime minister put his weight behind the ECP. “The president has announced the polls date, whereas it is in fact the ECP’s prerogative.”

The prime minister’s remarks echoed the statement issued by the federal and provincial law ministers earlier in the day.

The meeting — attended by provincial law ministers Kanwar Dilshad (Punjab), Muhammad Omer Soomro (Sindh), Arshad Hussain Shah (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and Amanullah Kanrani (Balochistan) — concluded that the conduct of general elections and announcement of election dates is the sole competence of the country's electoral authority, as per the Constitution.

However, in another development, President Arif Alvi — adding to the ongoing controversy surrounding the election date — suggested in a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja to hold the polls on November 6.

In his letter, the president stated: “In the light of Article 48(5) of the Constitution, he has the authority and mandate “to appoint a date not later than 90 days from the date of dissolution [of assemblies], for holding of a general election to the assembly.”

“In terms of Article 48(5) the general election to the National Assembly should be held by the eighty-ninth day of the date of dissolution of the National Assembly, i.e. Monday 6th Day of November 2023,” the letter also read.

It is to be noted that the PML-N-led Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government dissolved the National Assembly on August 9. 

However, the outgoing government in a Council of Common Interest (CCI) meeting had unanimously approved the 7th Population and Housing Census 2023.

According to Article 51 (5) of the Constitution, the seats of the National Assembly to each province and the federal capital shall be allocated on the basis of population as per the new census.

Following CCI's approval, the ECP on August 17 announced the schedule of new delimitations which exceeded the November 9th 90-day constitutional limit, almost making sure that the elections are likely to be held post the 90-day mark.

If the elections are to be held within the 90-day limit, then the polls are due on November 9, 2023.