Uncertainty eclipses electioneering this time

ISLAMABAD   - Political players normally never waste time to initiate their political campaign in their constituencies, soon after the dissolution of the assemblies, but this time the situation is altogether different from the past.

The politicians are on tenterhook waiting for a proper green signal from their party leaderships, as claims by the interim government to hold the general polls seemingly could not convince them.

In the past, though the political campaign gained momentum after the announcement of elections schedule, small gatherings in the courtyards of politicians' houses could be seen in almost all the constituencies.

Is tehqam-e-Paki - stan [IPP] led by Jhangir Tareen is so far the only party in the political arena barely seen conducting a political meeting-cum campaign in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa [KPK]. In a fresh political development, President Arif Alvi has invited Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja for a meeting to “fix an appropriate date” for general elections. Alvi wrote a letter to the CEC today, citing the constitutional requirement for the president to decide a date for general elections within 90 days of the dissolution of the National Assembly (NA). Knowing the fact about recently given power to the country’s top electoral watchdog [ECP], Alvi was not shy to mention that a recent amendment to the Elections Act 2017 empowered the Election Commission of Pakistan to announce the dates for polls unilaterally without consulting the president. Some insiders claim that the top election body would hold the parley with the President but would not give a final word about conducting the general elections. The ECP has a strong argument about the delimitation of constituencies in Pakistan which is not possible in four months, at least. It needs to be understood here that Section 17(2) of the Elections Act states, “the commission shall delimit constituencies after every census is officially published.” In line with this requirement, the commission has started the process of fresh delimitation of national and provincial assembly constituencies. In another development, the ECP has invited four political parties including the PPP, PML-N, PTI and JUI-F for discussions on the matters pertaining to elections. The commission has sent four separate letters to the parties’ heads. The letters state that the ECP “is charged with the constitutional duty to organise and conduct elections in terms of Article 218(3) of the Constitution and to make such arrangements as are necessary to ensure that the election is conducted honestly, justly, fairly”. But all these developments are still not clear-cut signals for the second and third tier political figures to even start their political campaign. For the first time, the parliamentarians had left the parliament after the dissolution of assemblies in an uncertain scenario. The situation was quite different as compared with the previous departures of the members of parliament (MPs) with no elections in sight.

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