A formal decision to leave office in the first half of August has the PDM government made? It would seem so based on statements made by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday at a gathering in the nation’s capital in an effort to correct an earlier error in which he incorrectly stated that the current National Assembly will adjourn on August 14th.
A meeting between the premier and Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the head of the PDM coalition, had taken place the day before. The latter allegedly emphasised that the nation’s elections must be held on schedule.
The high-level meeting between the top leadership of the PPP and PML-N in Dubai, to which the JUI-F chief, much to his dismay, had not been invited, had been followed by the prime minister’s hurried meeting with Mr. Rehman.
According to PPP leaders, the Dubai huddle, which was intended to choose candidates for the caretaker administration and a potential seat adjustment formula for the future elections, failed to produce “anything final.” However, the PML-N has now stated the date that the coalition agreement will end. This eliminates some of the ambiguity over the future course of action because at least the PDM government won’t stay too long.It is noteworthy, nevertheless, that the prime minister chose to defer to the Election Commission of Pakistan and refrained from offering even a broad schedule for when the upcoming general elections would take place.Technically, the ECP is the appropriate authority with the authority to announce the election schedule, but given that it repeatedly delayed the elections for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab assemblies in violation of the Constitution, it is reasonable to worry that the road to the upcoming elections won’t be easy at all. It is now up to the ECP to completely clear the air. Rumours have it that the interim administration that replaces the PDM government may last longer than two or three months, similar to the interim administrations in Punjab and KP, which have been in power much past the end of their respective terms.If this were to happen, it would be in direct opposition to the ECP’s basic purpose. On a recent television programme, the law minister asserted that no authority on earth could compel the ECP to set a date for any election, even if the ECP is obviously breaking the law of the land. Does his distorted reasoning reveal the state’s genuine motivations? One hopes that the nation won’t get involved in another mishap. To move the nation ahead, it is imperative that a powerful government be established following a free and fair election. Any attempt to prevent this will be considered as a further blatant violation of the constitutional order and will be rejected.