Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar on Monday said he expects the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to announce a date for general elections “soon,” as political parties have already started their campaigns.
In a press conference convened after his visit to China last week, he told journalists that no political party was being sidelined, adding the interim government was striving to assist the electoral process. “Can’t comment if level playing field means ensuring a particular party’s win,” he said to a question on concerns from the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf that were not being facilitated in organizing public events.
“[We] remember the level playing field of 2018 when the South Punjab front came into being,” continued Kakar, referring to the last general elections. He also clarified that while the government had no concerns with any political party participating in the elections, if there were any restrictions imposed by courts, they would be adhered to.
To a question on the protocol accorded to PMLN leader supremo Nawaz Sharif on his return to Pakistan after four years in self-imposed exile, the interim premier said he could not comment on matters outside his purview. However, when pushed to explain NADRA conducting Sharif’s biometrics verification at the airport, he said this was the former prime minister’s right as a Pakistani citizen.
“If someone thinks that an atmosphere of level playing field should be created for a particular party, which many want, this I can’t do,” he said, in a seeming reference to the PTI. “If Mian Nawaz Sharif is a Pakistani citizen, which I think he is … then he has a right to have biometric scans,” he added. Questioning how NADRA’s facilitation of Sharif could grant the PMLN leader any “political advantage,” he lamented that the media had portrayed a “normal database procedure” as evidence of a non-level playing field.
“The PMLN leader is a political reality and his adversaries should face him in politics,” he added.
During the presser, Kakar stressed that he did not believe in giving government ads to print media. As a majority of reporters questioned him on the prevailing political situation, he voiced displeasure that they did not appreciate the importance of the Belt and Road Initiative and its impact on Pakistan.