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Sunday July 14, 2024

Imran’s demand for snap elections has no takers

By Tariq Butt
November 13, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s demand for snap elections has not impressed even a single major or small political party. Even after finding no taker in the political field, he persists with his call as he always does, believing that it will ultimately find some supporters.

Irrespective of its strength in the national and provincial assemblies, every parliamentary force has vehemently rejected the call because everyone wants to have full term of the directly elected legislatures. None has exhibited even a slight inclination to face the electoral test prematurely and lose more than half a year of its parliamentary tenure. The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), which rules Sindh, is not prepared to dissolve the provincial assembly before its stipulated time to accede to the PTI’s demand.

Similarly, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), National Party and Pukhtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party, which are in government in Balochistan, are unwilling to wrap up the provincial assembly prematurely.

As per its policy, the PML-N, which controls the Punjab assembly and rules the province, is determined to let the legislatures complete their constitutionally mandated five-year tenure. The PML-N and its allies, which run the federal government, hold the same view. The Jamaat-e-Islami, which is a coalition partner of the PTI in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa (KP), is as opposed to early elections as other parties are. Despite being its ally in the provincial government, it has never stood with the PTI in its protest campaign.

The Awami National Party (ANP), which has a small say in the KP and national assemblies, is also against snap elections and has demanded that the legislatures should be allowed to live their full life.

Even KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak of the PTI is as strongly opposed to immediate elections as others are. Had he ever backed his party in such demands, he and his members of the KP assembly would have resigned when the PTI’s federal and Punjab legislators had quit back in 2014. He always wanted complete term of his government.  In this environment when everyone is speaking against early polls, the PTI demand is just a cry in the wilderness. Unless there is a universal consensus among major parties and they build enough pressure on the government, this call may not be given any importance.

Reacting to Imran Khan’s opinion, his deputy Shah Mehmood Qureshi had stated a few days ago that the PTI wants the elections on time. However, he too later changed his mind and said that since the government has become dysfunctional, the polls should be held without any delay. Not only Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi but several federal ministers and PML-N leaders have ruled out early elections saying that there was no justification for such a demand. They sensed a conspiracy behind this call. A question that often comes to mind because of Imran Khan’s repetition is that when the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has made it known that it will be in a position to hold forthcoming elections on time, meaning in August next, only if it was given the required powers now, how it can organize the polls immediately.To hold the elections as scheduled, Monday’s meeting of the Council of Common Interests, convened by the prime minister and to be attended by all the chief ministers, will be decisive.

However, there are not very bright prospects of a breakthrough because of inflexibility of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) to hold the next polls on the basis of the 1998 population census, ignoring the 2017 data that was collected under the army supervision to make it non-controversial and transparent.

The PPP’s abrupt volte face has provoked the PML-N to allege that Asif Zardari, as part of a conspiracy, was working to disrupt the timely polls by refusing to support the constitutional amendment although his party had previously agreed to it when it was tabled in the National Assembly.