The general elections are just over a month away and yet there are some who are still trying to get them delayed. Almost since the day the Election Commission of Pakistan announced the election schedule, there have been calls for a postponement. The rationale for demanding a delay keeps shifting, the latest being that court appeals over the delimitation of electoral boundaries will take too much time to be resolved to hold the elections on time. Last month, it was the Balochistan Assembly passing a resolution calling for a delay and now it is politicians like Sheikh Rasheed who are demanding the election date be changed. Needless to say, these complaints hold no merit. The ECP, the Supreme Court and caretaker Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk have all said that there is no need for any postponement. Shifting the date of the elections at this late stage will only empower anti-democratic forces and cast doubt on the integrity of the elections. While it is true that the courts have nullified the delimitation of some constituencies, the ECP is now reviewing the decisions and has enough time to finalise electoral boundaries. It is also the duty of the political class to accept the delimitation once their appeals are heard rather than use it as an excuse to push back the election date.
In their desperation to delay the elections, some have even claimed that the serious illness of Kulsoom Nawaz should lead to a postponement. Needless to say, this attempt to use an extremely ill cancer patient as a way of derailing the democratic process should be condemned. Kulsoom Nawaz has a history of service to the democratic cause. An apolitical person until her husband Nawaz Sharif was overthrown in a coup in 1999, she became a dignified activist for the democratic cause. When her own party isn’t asking for a delay, how then can anyone else claim that her illness calls for the election date to be shifted? It needs to be made clear once again to everyone that the polls will go ahead as scheduled on July 25. Those who refuse accept should be seen as either being worried about not being able to win their own seats or as those opposed to democratic processes. A delay at this late date will lead to justifiable fears of rigging and outside interference. At a time when strengthening the democratic system must be everyone’s goal, any hitch in the holding of elections will only hurt the country.