Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, the chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), on Sunday without taking any names mocked former allies for running away from the general elections.
The PPP leader — who was addressing the inauguration ceremony of a water filtration plant in Hyderabad’s Hussainabad area — in a subtle jibe against his former allies namely Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) over their reluctance to support elections within the 90-day period as per the Constitution.
“Our allies are running away from the general elections,” he said.
The development comes as a day earlier, Bilawal had reiterated his party’s central executive committee’s (CEC) stance on holding the elections within the 90-day constitutional limit after the dissolution of assemblies.
In contrast, the PML-N — in its meeting with the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja in August last month — had asked the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold polls after carrying out delimitation of constituencies based on the new census.
It is to be noted that the PML-N-led Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) alliance and the PPP formed a coalition government in April last year after toppling Imran Khan’s government through a no-trust motion.
Zardari, Bilawal at odds over election date
The debate surrounding the elections within the 90-day constitutional limit has left PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal at odds over the election date.
The former president on Friday, voiced support for fresh delimitations under the new census and therefore effectively favouring holding of elections post the 90-day limit.
However, the PPP chairman on Saturday termed his father’s comments as “personal opinion” and reiterated his party’s CEC’s demand of holding the elections within the 90-day limit.
Delimitations, controversy around elections
The PML-N-led PDM government dissolved the National Assembly on August 9 while the Sindh and Balochistan assemblies were also prematurely dissolved to allow the electoral authority to hold elections in the country within 90 days instead of 60 days if the legislature completed its constitutional tenure.
If the elections are to be held within the thee 90-day limit, then the polls are due on November 9, 2023.
However, before dissolving the assemblies the coalition government in a Council of Common Interest (CCI) meeting had unanimously approved the 7th Population and Housing Census 2023.
According to Article 51 (5) of the Constitution, the seats of the National Assembly to each province and the federal capital shall be allocated on the basis of population as per the new census.
Following CCI’s approval, the ECP on August 17 announced the schedule of new delimitations which exceeded the November 9th 90-day constitutional limit, almost making sure that the elections are likely to be held post the 90-day mark.
As per the schedule announced by the ECP:
- September 8 to October 7 — Delimitation of the constituencies to be held across the country.
- October 10 to November 8 — Proposals regarding constituencies to be submitted.
- September 5 to September 7 — A quota of constituencies of the national and provincial assemblies to be allocated.
- August 21 — Constituency committees of four provinces to be established.
- August 31 — Administrative matters related to the constituencies to be completed.
- November 10 to December 9 — ECP to decide on the objections to the constituencies.
- December 14 — Final publication of the delimitation.
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