Uncertainty over provincial polls



THE provincial assemblies of Punjab and KP stood dissolved as a result of the PTI’s move to force the Federal Government to go for early elections, a policy which has been described by party Chairman Imran Khan as the best strategy, but confusion persists about holding of elections in the two provinces due to legal and political issues involved.

There are indications that the coalition parties at the centre do not want immediate elections as Governors, appointed by the Federation, are reluctant to announce dates for the purpose.

The PTI has moved the judiciary on the issue of delay in announcing a date for elections in Punjab where the Governor maintains he was not duty bound to do so as the assembly stands dissolved by operation of law and not by him (Governor) and, therefore, he has told the Election Commission and Speaker of the dissolved assembly that the election process was now to take place in accordance with Article 224, read with Clause (3) of Article 218 of the Constitution and the applicable provisions of the Elections Act, 2017.

Interestingly, while asking the ECP to fix a date on its own, the Governor has pleaded that the Commission should consult all stakeholders for reaching consensus on a date after considering the prevailing security and economic conditions in the country.

It is also interesting that contrary to Punjab, the KP assembly was dissolved by the Governor in accordance with the advice rendered by the then Chief Minister Mahmood Khan but Governor Haji Ghulam Ali, instead of announcing a date, has also preferred throwing the ball in the court of the Election Commission.

In a letter to the ECP, the Governor has also advised it to fix the date for elections in consultation with relevant institutions and political parties keeping in view the law and order situation in the province.

There is marked similarity in the approach of the two Governors and the points highlighted by them are also unofficially being cited by the Federal Government as a justification for delaying the polls.

The entire politics of PML(N) revolves around Punjab but the ground realities do not present a positive picture for the party in case of timely elections.

There are also financial issues which could form the basis for a financial emergency and as a result the election process could get derailed.

Under these circumstances, it is now for the ECP to decide about the exact time frame after analysis of the economic and security environment as per input from different stakeholders.

Nothing is yet certain about when to hold the elections particularly when the judiciary too is active on political issues.