Law Minister seeks Caretaker govts in all Provinces to hold general elections

ISLAMABAD: Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar on Wednesday shed light on the legal complications for the government following the Supreme Court’s verdict regarding elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, as he stressed that it was a constitutional requirement to have caretaker governments in all provinces to proceed with the general elections. On March 1, the Supreme Court, in a 3-2 verdict, ruled that the elections in KP and Punjab — both of which have been under caretaker governments since the provincial assemblies were dissolved in January — should be held within 90 days.
At a press conference in Islamabad, the minister said a holistic reading of Article 224 of the Constitution stipulated that caretaker governments across the country were imperative for general elections to take place.
Article 224 deals with the timing of elections as well as the procedure of the appointment of a caretaker prime minister in case the leader of the house and leader of the opposition do not agree on the name of a caretaker premier.
“Currently, the centre, Sindh and Balochistan have a political government, while KP and Punjab are ruled by caretaker setups.”
He questioned whether PTI chief Imran Khan will accept the results of elections in the two provinces if they were not in his favour.
The minister asked if people would trust the fairness of the general elections in October when there will already be elected governments in place in KP and Punjab with all key departments under their control.
The court should have considered all these complications and conducted a thorough review of Article 224 before reaching a conclusion, the minister added.
Tarar said he firmly believed that the suo motu taken by the court was uncalled-for. The judgement was pronounced in neglect of viewpoints of four judges, he added.
He said the apex court’s verdict seemed to be given in “haste”.
The minister maintained that it was now the responsibility of the Election Commission of Pakistan to hold fair and transparent polls under Article 218(3) of the Constitution.
He reiterated that the general elections should only be held under caretaker governments countrywide.
“In the next elections, KP and Punjab elections will complete their respective terms six months earlier (in case of early elections in two provinces) … this six-month gap will create legal challenges later on,” he said.
The minister urged Imran to accept the results no matter what. “Even if he bags a heavy majority, we will acknowledge the results. This is a democratic tradition. And he should also demonstrate the same approach.” –Agencies