ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) issued notices to key political parties on Wednesday for tomorrow (Thursday) on a plea filed by the defense minister demanding simultaneous general elections across Pakistan.
A three-member Supreme Court (SC) bench is hearing the defense ministry’s petition for simultaneous general elections across Pakistan.
The petition is being heard by a three-judge bench led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, which also includes Justices Ijaz Ul Ahsan and Munib Akhtar.
The Ministry of Defense had asked the Supreme Court (SC) the day before to hold “simultaneous elections” in the country.
The defense ministry, which is in charge of allocating armed forces for the polls, has petitioned the Supreme Court for simultaneous elections in the country.
The ministry has requested that the Supreme Court recall its April 4 ruling to hold Punjab elections on May 8 and issue a directive that general elections for the National and Provincial assemblies be held concurrently, following the completion of their terms.
“The order dated 04-04-2023 be recalled with the directions that general elections to the National and all Provincial Assemblies be held together, upon completion of the terms of the National and the other two Provincial Assemblies Sindh and Balochistan,” it stated.
“The RAW [Research and Analysis Wing] identified fault lines to harm Pakistan’s federation, particularly [by fanning] ethnic issues, water disputes, [the alleged] resource capture and monopoly of Punjab, and, as terrorists in Balochistan say, Punjab’s colonization.”
“As a result, holding general elections for the Punjab Assembly would exacerbate the situation,” the ministry stated in the report.
As the hearing began, CJP Bandial summoned Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Awan to the rostrum and ordered him to read the defense ministry’s report in the courtroom.
CJP Bandial noted that the situation had been protracted since the government had delegated executive authority to the legislature.
CJP Bandial stated that despite assurances that funds would be granted through a supplementary grant, the administration had sent issues pertaining to funds for conducting polls to parliament.
The NA Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue has forwarded the subject to the cabinet and parliament, according to the AGP.
At this point, Justice Muneeb Akhtar inquired as to how the government might be prevented from issuing a grant.
“The prime minister should have a majority in the National Assembly as well as in financial matters,” he said.
The AGP then urged the court that there was enough time in the current case to obtain the NA’s consent before giving the supplementary grant.
The SC court then asked AGP if he was aware of the implications of rejecting a supplementary budget.
AGP Awan indicated that parliament had the authority to authorize an additional grant. He stated that the NA has already voiced its position on the subject through a resolution.
“Parliament has the authority to approve a supplementary grant,” AGP stated.
During the hearing, the CJP noted that the electoral commission had declared that elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa could not be held till October.
“Terrorism has been ongoing in the country since 1992,” he stated, stressing that elections were placed in the country despite terrorism in 1987, 1997, 2002, 2008, and 2013.
During the hearing, the AGP informed the court that, with the exception of one, all political parties had consented to engage in negotiations with the opposition.
AGP Awan stated that all parties have agreed to hold talks and that if the court allows some time, problems could be resolved.
“If all political parties adopt a common stance, the court can make some room,” the chief justice said.
The Supreme Court subsequently issued notices to key political parties for tomorrow (Thursday) and delayed the case until 11:30 a.m. on Thursday.
It is worth noting that the Supreme Court pronounced the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) decision to postpone elections to the Punjab Assembly until October 8 “unconstitutional” in its April 4 judgment, and set May 14 as the new date.
The National Assembly, on the other hand, later passed a resolution rejecting the three-member Supreme Court bench’s ruling on the Punjab elections, indicating that it would not allocate funds to the ECP for polling.
Following the government’s move, the Supreme Court (SC) asked the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to provide a total of Rs21 billion to the electoral commission for holding elections, however, the central bank failed to do so even after the deadline expired.