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Photo Source: The Express Tribune

Pakistan Reader# 587, 28 April 2023

On the KP and Punjab assembly elections: The Chief Justice entrusts the date to the political leadership



CJP Bandial compelled the political parties to participate in negotiations

Femy Francis

On 27 April, the Supreme Court hearing on the Punjab election date headed by CJP Umar Ata Bandial. CJP Bandial compelled the political parties to participate in negotiations and get through the political impasse. He noted that the delayed election proceedings have already violated the constitution and that it is their responsibility to abide by the constitution. Bandial clarifies that the SC's objective in imploring negotiations between the contesting political parties were mere ‘suggestion’ and not direction. He said: “We are not pushing anyone but only finding a way for the enforcement of the Constitution,” and iterated that cannot “force political parties to hold parleys.”
 
AGP Mansoor Awan stated that letters were sent to the government and the opposition requesting representatives from the parties to hold talks. He informed that regardless of differences of opinion between the ruling coalition, a way was found to hold the talks and that they officially wrote to PTI’s Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Qureshi expressed that the federal government were not serious about holding a dialogue but clarified that the letter did reach him. He stated on behalf of the PTI party that they believe in negotiating and respected the court and the constitution. PTI lawyer Ali Zafar implored the court to issue a deadline for political consensus, which was refused by the CJP.
 
An opening between the PTI and PDM
On 27 April, PTI and the PDM representatives participated in a dialogue addressing the election delay in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa polls. A breakthrough came in for Pakistan's political crisis where the contentious political rivals met. The party representative from PLM-N included Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, and Law Minister Azam Nazir Tarar from PPP came Senator Yousaf Raza Gillani, PTI sent Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Vice President Fawad Chaudhry, amongst others.
 
The PTI representatives suggested the dissolution of NA in Sindh and Balochistan so that elections can be conducted in a single day. Furthermore, the ruling coalition suggested the conduction of elections by August or September but stated that they need time to consult with the allied parties and leaders, whereas PTI suggested the elections should be held in the month of July. PTI’s Qureshi expressed that both parties should not cross the boundaries of the constitution. The committee ended with both parties rescheduling the meeting to discuss the matter further after consulting their party members and alliances. JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman reiterated that they will not be holding a dialogue with the PTI leaders and said: “We stand by our position that we are not in favour of negotiations with PTI.”
 
On 27 April, NA for the second time refuted the motion to release PKR 21 billion of supplementary grant for the conduction of the election in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari expressed that the three-member judge should appear in front of the privilege committee of the house answering as to how could the judiciary halt parliament from taking legislative decisions. The events of the day culminated with a successful dialogue proceeding where the issue remains unresolved and at a standstill.
 
References
Nasir Iqbal, “ CJP stresses only dialogue can end stalemate,” Dawn, 28 April 2023
CJ says court cannot force parties for talks,” The Express Tribune, 27 April 2023
Sohail Khan, “Anticlimactic end to apex court hearing: No directive or timeline for talks on Punjab polls, says CJP,” The News International, 28 April 2023
Rizwan Shehzad, “In first, bitter foes sit across the table,” The Express Tribune, 27 April 2023
Kalbe Ali, “Fazl refuses to show flexibility on talks with PTI,” Dawn, 28 April 2023
Muhammad Anis,”NA again rejects motion for Punjab, KP polls funds,” The News International, 28 April 2023

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