Chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) reaffirms the demand for elections within 90 days of assembly dissolution
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari made a surprising statement on Saturday, asserting that his father, former President Asif Ali Zardari’s views on fresh delimitations were his own. This statement caused a stir in political circles, particularly considering the party’s recent shift in stance regarding elections to be held within 90 days.
The former chairman’s comments came during a press conference in Badin when he was questioned about the differences in his and Zardari’s positions on elections.
Bilawal suggested that the reporter ask Zardari directly about the meaning behind his statement. He recalled the PPP’s recent Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting, which he chaired alongside the former president. During the meeting, both viewpoints on the timing of elections were considered, and all of the party’s legal experts conveyed that the Constitution clearly mandates elections to be held within 90 days of the dissolution of assemblies.
Bilawal stated, “I am obliged to follow President Zardari on our family matters, but when it comes to political matters, the Constitution, and party policy, I am bound to follow the decisions of my party’s Central Executive Committee and my workers.”
Last month, following a Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting, the PPP demanded that elections be conducted within 90 days, in accordance with the Constitution.
However, earlier on the same day, PPP Co-chairman Zardari defended the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and expressed full confidence in the body responsible for overseeing elections. He asserted that a fresh delimitation was necessary following the announcement of the new census.
The statement from the PPP, shared on its social media accounts, underscored the ECP’s responsibility to conduct elections in line with the Constitution.
This statement followed calls from various PPP leaders, including Chairman Bilawal, urging the ECP to announce the date for general elections and adhere to the constitutional requirement of holding elections within 90 days. The party reiterated these demands during a consultative meeting with ECP members.
Uncertainty Surrounding Elections: Uncertainty has arisen regarding the timing of the upcoming elections. The government led by Shehbaz Sharif dissolved the National Assembly on August 9, and the Sindh and Balochistan assemblies were also dissolved prematurely to allow for elections to be held within 90 days, as mandated by the Constitution.
However, it may not be possible for the ECP to hold the elections within the specified timeframe because the Council of Common Interest (CCI) approved the 7th Population and Housing Census in 2023 shortly before the assembly dissolutions.
The CCI’s approval made it constitutionally mandatory for the ECP to conduct elections based on fresh delimitations in light of the census results.
According to Article 51(5) of the Constitution, the seats in the National Assembly for each province and the federal capital are allocated based on the population according to the last preceding officially published census.
As a result, on August 17, the ECP announced a schedule for new delimitations in line with the newly approved census by the CCI.
According to this schedule, the new constituency delimitation for the entire country will be finalized and announced in December of this year.
The ECP’s schedule indicates that the process of fresh delimitation will take approximately four months, which means that the general elections in the country cannot be held within 90 days of the dissolution of the provincial and national assemblies.