An independent senator on Friday submitted a second resolution seeking a delay to the Feb. 8 general elections—just a week after a similar resolution was tabled and adopted to much controversy.
Moved by independent Senator Hidayat Ullah, the new resolution calls for postponing the general elections by three months in light of prevailing “security challenges.” It states that the Upper House calls “upon the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the Supreme Court” to consider holding peaceful elections. It specifically expresses concern over “rising incidents” of targeting of candidates ahead of the polls, citing armed attacks in North Waziristan, Bajaur, Swabi, and Turbat.
The resolution maintains the Upper House recognizes that holding the general elections is a constitutional obligation, adding the Constitution equally emphasizes free and fair elections that ensure the safety and unhindered participation of all stakeholders.
Emphasizing that Article 9 of the Constitution highlights the importance of the fundamental right of the people to the security of life and property, the resolution states the state has to provide this in all circumstances as its primary responsibility. In this regard, it calls on the ECP and the Supreme Court to delay the general elections and use the three-month adjournment to proactively create conditions that ensure a level playing field for all political parties and candidates while addressing security concerns.
Last week, following the adoption of the first resolution, several parties had submitted a counter-resolution demanding timely elections. However, as the Senate is currently prorogued, the resolution has yet to be adopted. Earlier this week, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)—both of whom had come under criticism for their senators’ failure to oppose the first resolution—sought a Senate session to ensure timely general elections.
Penned by PTI Senator Ali Zafar, the requisition seeks a debate on the issue of general elections, stressing the country cannot afford political uncertainty and elections must be held as per schedule on Feb. 8.
The first resolution was passed while only 14 senators were present in the 100-strong Senate, suggesting a lack of quorum that was not pointed out by any opponents. Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) Senator Afnanullah Khan and caretaker Information Minister Murtaza Solangi opposed the resolution, but PPP Senator Bahramand Khan Tangi and PTI Senator Gurdeep Singh preferred to remain silent. The PTI and PPP have issued show-cause notices to both their senators for their deviation from party policy of seeking timely elections.