An up-to-date and informed analysis of key issues of Pakistan.
Pakistan’s transition to democracy is mired by multiple challenges including an unpredictable delay in election, resulting in risking the essence of democracy and undermining people’s political rights. Fear of an indefinite delay in the election process continues to raise concerns among political stakeholders, experts and concerned citizens.
While at the other hand, federal as well as provincial interim governments continue to operate beyond constitutionally mandated time limitations. For instance, Punjab’s interim government has been in operation since January 2023 and will last till the newly elected government takes charge probably by February 2024.
The prolonged continuation of the interim government, during the contemporary environment of political instability and economic crises, has halted the essential decision-making process, intensified the governance challenges and created an environment of political instability in the country. Furthermore, it has rendered the people unable to raise their voices and hold the government accountable. The evolving situation has also intensified political polarisation, further fraying the fragile social fabric of the society.
Whereas, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has announced to conduct the election by late January 2024. Nevertheless, the ECP was supposed to conduct the election within 90 days – by November 2023 – after dissolution of the national assembly in August this year. However, the commission contends the necessity to fulfil the Constitutional requirement of redrawing constituencies based on the latest census, approved by the Council of Common Interests (CCC). This time-consuming exercise has caused delays in the election and led the ECP to breach other relevant constitutional and election law provisions.
Given this complex scenario, it appears increasingly difficult for Pakistan to adhere to the constitutionally stipulated timeframe for holding elections, might seem challenging but better to proceed later than never. Holding fair, free and periodic elections is an essentially important exercise to endure democratic spirit, a way forward to people’s empowerment and a key to achieving stability.
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