Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) President Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who also heads the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl), on Sunday proposed postponing elections in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa due to the country’s “deteriorated law and order situation.”
In a press conference from Islamabad, he claimed that the prevailing law and order situation was “not suitable for elections.” Maintaining that the PDM believed in conducting general elections in accordance with the Constitution, he claimed such decisions could only be taken in light of the country’s situation. Discussing the resurgence of terrorism nationwide, he questioned if the police and other security agencies could successfully ensure security during the election process in this challenging scenario.
Last month, the Ministry of Defense informed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) that the Army could not be deployed to provide security for elections in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, as it was already busy with “counter-terrorism” operations. However, in a recent ruling, the Supreme Court directed the federal government to ensure that it provided the ECP with all the resources it required to conduct elections, which it said must be held within 90 days of an assembly’s dissolution, but could be deviated to the “barest minimum” if required.
The apex court also directed the ECP to consult with President Arif Alvi for a date of polls in Punjab and with Governor Haji Ghulam Ali for a date of polls in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Alvi, last week, announced April 30 as the date for polls in Punjab, but the governor has yet to provide any date for KP.
Referring to the Supreme Court’s suo motu notice of a date for elections, Fazl recalled that his party had protested against alleged rigging in the 2018 elections and even staged a long march against then-prime minister Imran Khan. “How are these ears that did not hear the voice of 1.5 million people and take a suo motu notice for just four people?” he said, referring to the Supreme Court not taking any notice of the 2018 polls. He also recalled that the same court had once granted Gen. Pervez Musharraf three years to conduct elections—despite that also being against the Constitution.
Blaming Imran Khan and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf for the prevailing economic crisis, he lamented: “Today, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is preparing our budget and controlling the prices.” Claiming that the lender was “creating trouble,” he alleged that he knew “why the IMF” has been harsher on Pakistan than any other country in the region. He also accused the lender of creating hurdles in the way of friendly states that wished to support Pakistan in this difficult time.
He noted that amidst this economic crunch, the ECP needed Rs. 80 billion to print ballet papers, adding that this expense came at a time when the state couldn’t even provide bread to the poor.
The JUIF chief also alleged that former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt. Gen. (retd.) Faiz Hameed and former chief justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar were still lobbying for Khan, and urged the relevant institutions to take notice of the situation and “rein them in.”