ISLAMABAD: The interim Prime Minister, Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, anticipates the announcement of the election date to be imminent as political parties gear up for the upcoming elections.
During an interaction with journalists in the federal capital, the prime minister assured that the interim government is making every effort to facilitate the electoral process, ensuring the inclusion of all political parties.
Last month, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) disclosed that the general elections in the country would occur in the last week of January 2024, though the specific date was not provided.
Regarding the issue of ensuring a level playing field for all parties in the country, the prime minister commented, “I can’t comment on whether a level playing field means guaranteeing the victory of a particular party. We remember the level playing field of 2018 when the South Punjab front emerged.”
The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) have both called for a level playing field ahead of the elections without providing extensive details on their demands.
Earlier in the day, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa, presiding over petitions requesting timely elections within 90 days of the dissolution of the assemblies, noted that meeting the 90-day deadline for holding elections was “not possible.” The apex court adjourned the hearing until November 2.
It’s important to note that the Shehbaz Sharif-led government dissolved the National Assembly on August 9, with the Sindh and Balochistan assemblies also being prematurely dissolved to enable the electoral authority to hold elections within 90 days. Had the assemblies been dissolved on schedule, the ECP would have been constitutionally obligated to conduct polls within 60 days.
However, the ECP decided against holding elections within the stipulated timeframe due to the Council of Common Interest (CCI) approving the 7th Population and Housing Census 2023 shortly before the assembly dissolution. This approval necessitated fresh delimitations based on the census results, leading to a delay in the polls.
PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif, a significant political figure, has returned to Pakistan after a four-year self-imposed exile in London, just ahead of the elections. The PML-N hopes that his return will bolster the party’s chances in the upcoming polls, as the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s 16-month tenure in government did not yield favorable results.
Questions were raised by political parties regarding the government’s provision of security to Nawaz Sharif, who is a convicted absconder. Allegations were also made that he returned under some form of agreement. Upon landing in Islamabad for a brief stop, Nawaz Sharif completed court procedures and held consultations with his legal team, including his biometric verification for the Islamabad High Court, where his appeals are pending.
In response to the biometric verification of the PML-N leader, PM Kakar emphasized that, as a Pakistani citizen by birth, Nawaz Sharif has the right to undertake these legal processes, and he encouraged Sharif’s political adversaries to confront him in the realm of politics.