Having elections time

No matter what the reasons, deviating from the Constitution is a bad idea

The delay by the Governors of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in announcing dates for the provincial elections is giving rise to speculation that the elections to the two assemblies, which were prematurely dissolved on January 14 and 18 respectively, giving the Election Commission 90 days to hold the Election, according to the Constitution. The dissolutions not just failed to force the federal government to dissolve itself, and let general elections be held, but also failed to squash the talk of the federal elections, which are due at the latest by October, being postponed. The Pakistan Tehjrik Insaf, though its Secretary General Asad Umar, has petitioned the respective high courts. The fate of the two provincial assemblies thus seems to be a precursor of that of the National Assembly.

It is true that the Constitution allows for the National Assembly to extend its life by up to a year if Emergency, ordinary or economic, has been imposed on the country. It also allows the federal government to take over the functions of a provincial government. However, it does not seem too contemplate the postponement of provincial elections. Those eager for a postponement refer to Article 254, which declares that any delay does not render the act itself illegal. That does not make any delay legal, noor does it provide any legal path towards that delay. It merely bars such events as the 1985 elections being challenged because they took place at least three years late.

- Advertisement -

It is also being argued that the elections might cost too much. That is a risible argument, and would be unacceptable in any private-sector organization. It becomes even more ridiculous when it is remembered that the ECP has itself given a date for 33 by-elections all over the country, and is likely to have to order another 70-odd. Then the resurgence of terrorism is mentioned as a possible excuse. The people who drafted the 1973 Constitution did so in the shadow of the 1971 War, and had to provide for the possibility of part of the country being under foreign occupation. If a terrorist threat, no matter how severe, can prevent elections, then the Constitution is not robust enough. It should not be forgotten that constitutional deviations have always led in the past to disaster, and to worsening problems instead of solving them. The present crisi, it can be argued, is mainly because the PTI was foisted upon the country because some institutions operated beyond their constitutional mandate.

Previous article
Next article
The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected]


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Must Read

ECP asked to withdraw decision to postpone Punjab election

LAHORE: Barrister Azhar Siddique, who serves as the chairman of the Judicial Activism Panel, has criticised the decision of the Election Commission of Pakistan...