The Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Thursday reiterated demands for timely elections and a “level-playing field” ahead of polls.
Chaired by PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari at Bilawal House in Lahore, the meeting acknowledged that delimitation of constituencies was a constitutional requirement, but maintained the process must be completed as soon as possible and elections conducted with a minimal delay beyond the stipulated 90-day constitutional period. In this regard, it demanded the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) immediately issue an elections schedule.
Addressing a press conference on Thursday night, PPP Information Secretary Shazia Marri, flanked by Faisal Kurim Kundi and Shehzad Saeed Cheema, said the CEC meeting would continue today (Friday). Stressing that holding polls at the earliest was in the national interest to end prevailing uncertainty, she said the PPP “acknowledged” that delimitation of constituencies after the publication of a new census was essential. “But efforts should be made not to violate other constitutional provisions for the sake of one. Or at least any such violation should be as little as possible,” she added.
Stressing that the PPP had no objections to the delimitation of constituencies under the new census, she said its reservations stemmed from the time required for the exercise. The ECP has already reduced the period for delimitations by 15 days, but Marri claimed the party believes it could be reduced even further. To a question, she said legal experts had informed the CEC that President Arif Alvi’s letter to the ECP had merely sown confusion and he did not have the mandate to either seek a meeting with the CEC or suggest any date for elections.
She said the PPP desired all political parties to be united on the issue of elections to avoid any rejection of results. She recalled the PPP chairman had earlier formed a committee to approach all parties, including the PTI, for holding general elections to the national and provincial assemblies on a single day but the PTI had backtracked at the last minute.
Marri further said the CEC members had expressed reservations about the inclusion of former bureaucrats and PMLN confidants Ahad Cheema, Fawad Hassan Fawad and Umar Saif as ministers into the federal cabinet of caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar. Alleging the PPP was being treated unfairly by the ECP with regards to a ban on development works in Sindh, she questioned why the electoral body had not implemented similar policies in Punjab or Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
Apart from Bhutto-Zardari, Marri, Kundi and Cheema, former president Asif Ali Zardari, Yousaf Raza Gilani, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Khursheed Shah, Murad Ali Shah, Farooq H. Naek, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Rana Farooq Saeed Khan, Syed Hassan Murtaza, and others attended the CEC meeting. Lawyers Aitzaz Ahsan and Sardar Latif Khan Khosa, however, failed to attend. On the recommendation of the Punjab leadership, a show-cause notice was served to Khosa for his statements and defense of PTI chief Imran Khan without seeking prior approval of the party.
Referring to the show-cause, Kundi clarified that Khosa has not yet been expelled from the party.