ECP’s Decision

On Wednesday, taking a contentious decision, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) released an order stating that the elections in Punjab will be delayed until October 8 on the grounds that it could not conduct transparent and peaceful polls on the scheduled date of April 30. While this was an argument being pushed by the government in light of the deteriorating security and economic situation in the country, the fact that this decision has been taken by the ECP has triggered a constitutional crisis that will only further escalate the ongoing political unrest in the country.
In the eight-page order, the ECP argued that it could not hold the election honestly, justly and fairly in a peaceful manner due to the security threats and the absence of funds. Therefore, it would not be possible to provide a level playing field to all the political parties. This does seem to be a change of heart given that the electoral watchdog was committed to following the Supreme Court’s orders not too long ago. Given the prevailing polarising situation, this verdict will place the ECP right at the centre of the political crisis once more.
The ECP also finds itself in a tough spot given that the Army has said that it will not be available for poll-related duties in light of the security situation. The ECP is dependent on the executive to conduct the polls and there are things beyond its control. However, this issue is far from being resolved and will only exacerbate the political unrest in the country.
The PTI is already planning its next move and this decision is most likely to be challenged in the Supreme Court. As expected, the government has thrown its weight behind this decision, but it should not be celebrating too soon because the opposition will only up the ante to ensure that its one-point agenda is entertained.

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