‘Unconstitutional’: Political parties slam Senate resolution on polls deferral

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After the Senate adopted a resolution seeking a delay in general elections with just a month left in the much-awaited polls, political parties Friday rejected the non-binding resolution, saying that further deferring the electoral process would be “unconstitutional”.

The majority of the lawmakers present in the legislature approved the resolution — seeking polls delay in the light of extreme weather in hilly areas and the deteriorating security situation — moved by independent lawmaker Senator Dilawar Khan earlier in the day.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Sherry Rehman, while addressing a press conference after the resolution was approved in the upper house of parliament, said that the party has a clear stance that the elections should not be put off.

“We absolutely do not support the delay in elections,” she said, adding that the PPP didn’t favour the Senate resolution.

Meanwhile, PPP enator Shahadat Awan — who was not present during the session — said that his party wants elections to be staged under any circumstances.

“This is rebellion against the Constitution. It was a [pre-planned] move and a conspiracy because the the polls must be held on time,” he said.

He reiterated that the resolution was tabled under a “plan” as the matter was not part of the Order of the Day today. Senator Awan said that the PPP is fully prepared for the polls.

“Those who can see their defeat [in elections] want to delay the polls,” he added.

Sher Afzal Marwat, central leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), which also abstained from voting on the motion today, told Geo News that the Constitution was “violated” in the Senate.

“The resolution for delay in general elections is an attack on the Constitution,” he said, adding that there is no single clause in the charter for putting off the polls.

Marwat also said that Article 6 applies to all those who voted in favour of the resolution. No one can approve an anti-constitutional resolution in the Senate, he added.

Condemning the approval of the Senate resolution, Jamat-e-Islami (JI) Emir Sirajul Haq said that the motion was a conspiracy against the country and democracy.

“Who will bring the democracy on track if it is derailed,” he said, stressing that delaying elections due to unrest in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan would be tantamount to surrendering before the ones causing unrest.

Haq said that peace and stability in the country could be ensured only through timely elections. He said that his party wants free and fair elections in the country on February 8.

The resolution moved by Senator Dilawar got the approval in the presence of 14 senators, who were the only lawmakers present in the upper house of 100.

PTI Senator Gurdeep Singh and PPP Senator Behramand Tangi abstained from voting. Following the vote, the Senate chairman adjourned the session indefinitely.

The elections are set to take place in 90 days when an assembly is dissolved, but the polls in all five legislative are yet to be held and they’ve already surpassed their constitutional limit.

The polls for KP and Punjab assemblies — dissolved in January last year — have not been held for around a year, while the national, Balochistan, and Sindh assemblies have been pushed past their limits as well already.

With the fears rife of delays, a petition was also moved in the Supreme Court, following which the apex court directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and President Arif Alvi to announce a date, which they did: February 8.

However, some political actors have been raising concerns about the security situation as well as the weather conditions. They say that they don’t want a delay, but called for the redressal of their problems.