‘Delay in elections against national interest’

LAHORE: Any delay in holding general elections will be detrimental for national interest.

This was the crux of the views expressed by speakers at a seminar on ‘Imperatives for Credible Electoral Process’ which organised by the Pakistan Institute of National Affairs (PINA).

The event was organised in collaboration with the Punjab University Center for South Asian Studies and Pakistan Studies Center.

Former Federal Law Minister SM Zafar, who was the chief guest on the occasion, urged political players to accept results of the polls. He asserted that a boycott of the electoral exercise would be damaging for the very cause of democracy. He suggested that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) hold an all-party conference to reach a unanimous code of conduct for upcoming elections.

Hailing the court decision of postponing proceedings of Ahsan Iqbal’s contempt of court case until after polls, he proposed that the judiciary to delay proceedings in all cases related to candidates contesting polls. He added this would end the impression that only one party was being held accountable.

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He also urged the ECP to cancel the election symbol of the jeep allotted to various independent candidates after it was reported that a certain force was behind the act and allotted different symbol to all these candidates.

Referring to recent developments in various Punjab cities, PML-N leader Muhammad Mehdi said pre-poll rigging started with the Panama Case verdict in which his party leader was disqualified without any solid reason. He claimed that the attack on Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was the result of saying no to the demand of postponing elections.

He said the army chief admitted that an officer in Kasur misused his authority by summoning returning officers, but did not explain what disciplinary action was taken against the officer concerned. He warned that as the world was closely watching elections so it was essential to make the exercise transparent and fair.

Brig (retd) Riaz Toor said deploying army men inside the polling stations could create some trouble. Pildat’s Ahmed Bilal Membood endorsed the views, saying the deployment of army inside and outside polling stations was unnecessary and could create doubts about the fairness of the electoral process.

ANP leader Ehsan Wyne said that some decisions and steps of the judiciary and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) were affecting the election process and giving the impression that a certain party was being targeted.

Justice Khokhar believed that arrangements for 2018 polls seemed better than the past. He urged making the election transparent, warning that martial law could not be ruled out if any campaign was launched against the election results.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 4th, 2018.

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Original news : https://tribune.com.pk/story/1749012/1-delay-elections-national-interest/