Timely Polls: Ball in CJP’s court

AS the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) could not go ahead with the first phase of its election schedule to receive nomination papers from the candidates owing to Lahore and Balochistan High courts judgments annulling the nomination papers and delimitation of constituencies, it only further added uncertainty about the timely conduct of general elections scheduled to take place on July 25. Both the PPP and the PML-N were quick to express their apprehensions on the situation arising out of courts’ verdicts saying they will agitate if the polls were delayed.
It is, however a matter of satisfaction that ECP acted quickly and at its emergency meeting on Saturday decided to approach the Supreme Court of Pakistan against the decisions of High courts with caretaker Prime Minister retired Justice Nasirul Mulk also advising the Attorney General to file an appeal against the LHC’s decision. While Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq also vowed to pursue the same course, he also raised questions on the timing of LHC’s judgment stating that the petition had been filed in December last year, but the decision had come at a time when ECP had already announced the election schedule. Anyway it is up to the legal experts to discuss the merits of the judgments given by the High courts yet we have no doubt that Supreme Court will immediately hear and give judgment at the earliest so that the ECP could go ahead with its election schedule. CJP Mian Saqib Nisar on more than one occasion has given assurances of timely polls in the country and we expect that the top court’s decision regarding nomination papers and the delimitation of constituencies will help offset current uncertainty about the polls. Indeed given the current situation where the country is faced with immense internal and external challenges, installation of a strong elected government is need of the hour. Timely polls are not only a constitutional obligation but also important to further strengthen democratic norms and traditions. Apart from the CJP’s commitment, it is encouraging to see that the ECP, the caretaker Prime Minister and all the mainstream political parties are on the same page for timely conduct of polls that are vital for country’s future and long-term stability.

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