Asserting that there will be a level playing field for all political parties in the next general election, Pakistan’s caretaker prime minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar has expressed hope that the election commission will shortly announce the date of the polls.
Without mentioning the exact date, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) last month announced that general elections would take place in the last week of January 2024.
“It seems that the date of the elections will be announced quite soon,” Kakar told reporters at a news conference, three days after returning from China, where he had attended Belt and Road Forum (BRF) conference on the 10th anniversary of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Commenting on the issue of equal political space for parties in the country, Mr. Kakar said, “No political party has been left out of the political process and that the caretaker government is doing its best to assist the electoral process.”
“We want no political party, entity and its associated political players to be out of the (election) process, but if any restriction is imposed by the court, we have to obey the orders,” he said as former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is facing legal challenges and some of the top leaders of the party are in jail.
“Can’t comment if level playing field means ensuring a particular party’s win. (We) remember the level playing field of 2018 when the South Punjab front came into being,” Kakar was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper on Tuesday.
Refuting the allegations that level playing field was not available to all political parties, but one, Kakar said: “What attempt the caretakers can do in two months which will help any party to get 171 seats (of the National Assembly in elections).” Kakar was talking to media amind demands by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) for a level playing field two days after the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif returned to Pakistan ending his self-imposed exile.
However, Dawn also reported that Kakar replied with “I abstain” when asked “why an extraordinary protocol was given to Sharif on his return and why the Pakistani high commissioner in the UK was at the airport to see him off.” The International News quoted Kakar, who was asked if there was a possibility of some leading Baloch Awami Party (BAP) politicians joining the Pakistan Muslim League (N) before the forthcoming elections, as saying: “If any politician wants to join a particular political party, he or she has a right to do it independently.
GeoTV reported that earlier in the day, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa — while hearing the petitions seeking timely elections within 90 days of the dissolution of the assemblies — had observed that it was “not possible” to meet the 90-day deadline for holding elections.
The apex court has adjourned the hearing till November 2, it said. The news channel also quoted Kakar as saying, “The PML-N supremo is a political reality” and that “his adversaries should face him in politics.”