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Govt, ECP urged adherence to constitution for elections

By Our Correspondent
February 21, 2023

Islamabad: Coalition for Elections and Democracy (CED), a coalition of leading civil society organisations, has urged the federal and provincial governments and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to adhere to the constitutional requirements regarding the conduct of provincial assembly elections in the Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provinces.

Any delay due to political expediency will undermine the constitutional order and will have adheres consequences for the fledgling democracy in the country. The CED consists of civil society organizations including Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI), Centre for Governance and Public Accountability (CGP­A), Individualland (IL), Institute for Research, Advocacy and Development (IRADA), Parliamentarians Commission for Human Rights (PCHR) and Peace and Justice Network (PJN).

CED has also urged the political parties to take steps to reduce polarization, sort out the controversy around implications of the decision of the Council of Common Interest (CCI) regarding census, jointly set date or dates for the polls within the constitutional framework, agree on a code of conduct for electoral campaign, and ensure that will of the people will be respected in all circumstances.

The proposed dialogue among political stakeholders must pave the way for multi-party consensus on measures aimed at improving the law and orders conditions, enacting electoral reforms, building trust of the voters in the electoral process, and upholding of constitution.

The CED believes that the multiple crises affecting the country require mature politics and stakeholders’ dialogue, as the existing polarization and unchecked politics of zero-sum type runs the risk of bringing down the whole constitutional order.

The CED has further called upon the political leadership of the country to assess risks of holding provincial assembly elections in the presence of a partisan government at the Federal level, and together find a solution for the short term as well as on the long term basis through an agreed code of conduct or legal measures.

The issues of such sensitive nature can’t be resolved to the satisfaction of all stakeholders, unless all the relevant players sit together and develop consensus in the light of regional or international best practices and in the interest of promoting democratic values.

Any unwarranted delay, CED has warned, in the conduct of provincial assembly elections will set a bad precedent, which will not be in the interest of political stability and democratic consolidation. It is imperative that, despite challenges, our governments and institutions stick to the Constitution and fulfil their responsibility in accordance with the law. It is deeply worrying that our politics continues to remain hugely polarized, marred with allegations of victimization and foul play, and focused on achieving partisan interests at all costs without much regard to consideration like political stability, constitutional order, institutional credibility and will of the people.