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Wednesday, May 22, 2024  
13 Dhul-Qadah 1445  

Court won’t hold on to Punjab polls decision if govt-PTI talks fail, says CJP

Government, opposition agreed on holding elections on a single date, claims response

Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial has remarked that if talks between PTI and the government fail, the court won’t ‘hold on to the decision’.

The remarks from the CJP came in the case of holding elections across Pakistan simultaneously.

“The government is bound to implement the court’s orders, if the court is showing restraint, then it should not be considered as a weakness,” Bandial remarked.

“The government is showing interest in politics and not in the law [constitution].”

‘Punjab will create more problems’

Khawaja Saad Rafique has said that holding elections only in Punjab will create more problems.

“With respect, since 2017 Supreme Court committed injustices against us,” the minister said after coming to the rostrum.

“The Constitution mentions holding polls in 90 days but also talks about free and fair elections,” Rafique said, warning that polls in Punjab will create more problems.

Referring to the 1971 fall of Dhaka, he said, “We have lost half the country over elections once.”

Holding polls in one province may be destructive, said Rafique adding that polls were delayed during the 1988 floods and after the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

CJP Bandial responded that elections were held during major wars, and in Turkey despite an earthquake. He added that the things being told to the court could have been said in written.

The PML-N leader responded that there is consensus on three points and it will be developed on the fourth one as well. He requested more time for the talks.

After hearing Khawaja Saad Rafique’s stance, the Chief Justice adjourned the hearing and said that the court will issue an appropriate order regarding this action.

Ruling alliance submits report

The government and opposition have reached a consensus on holding simultaneous elections in the country, claimed the ruling alliance in its response to the Supreme Court on Friday.

“We are ready to restore the process of negotiations in the interest of the country,” said the response. “PTI has agreed to hold an election on the same date.”

It was submitted by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who was part of the government-led team, via the attorney general for Pakistan to the top court. The development comes as the apex court is scheduled to resume the hearing on the election schedule case today at 11pm.

The ruling alliance had three rounds of talks with the PTI after legal and political experts called for a dialogue to resolve the crisis. The government has so far refused to hold elections to the Punjab Assembly on May 14 – a date set by the Supreme Court – citing financial issues faced by the court.

There was progress in the negotiations between the parties on the matter of election, it said and added that both sides could not agree on a date for the dissolution of the National Assembly and provincial assemblies.

“The coalition government showed flexibility in negotiations. Premature dissolution of assemblies was also considered,” said the response.

But the PTI told the court in a report that no solution could be arrived at and asked it to implement its order for holding polls in Punjab on May 14.

Case and SC report

A three-member bench comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, and Justice Munib Akhtar would preside over the case.

On Thursday, the top court issued the written order for the April 27 proceedings. “The court did not direct the political parties to negotiate, it is their own effort. The order of the court to hold elections on May 14 remains intact,” said the three-page document.

According to the order, the attorney general for Pakistan informed the court about the dialogue process between the government and the opposition. Farooq H Naek’s informed the court about the role of the chairman of the Senate in this regard.

In the last hearing on April 27, the three-member Supreme Court bench made it clear to the negotiating parties that its April 4 order on Punjab Assembly elections had remained unchanged.

The Election Commission of Pakistan filed a review petition against the April 4 decision of the Supreme Court regarding the elections on May 3, saying that the top court overstepped its power by giving an election date of May 14.

The petition requested the SC to withdraw the May 14 polling date.

More to follow

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