October 24, 2023
ISLAMABAD – In an apparent reference to the return of PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Monday said that there should be no further delay in polls following the events that took place over the weekend.
Nawaz landed in Pakistan on October 21 after spending four years in self-exile. Upon arrival, the deposed prime minister first completed legal formalities at the Islamabad airport and then flew to Lahore where he addressed a homecoming rally.
Addressing a ceremony held by the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan today, Bilawal, without naming Nawaz, said: “Given the events that we witnessed over the weekend, I trust there shall be no further delay.”
“Let us be clear ladies and gentlemen, elections delayed are elections denied.”
He urged the ECP to immediately release the date schedule for elections without further delay, stressing that the only way forward was to hold free and fair elections where all the contenders were given a level playing field.
He lamented that his party had been demanding an election date and schedule, since the expiration of the previous National Assembly’s term, but “to no avail”.
“Our right to have an election is absolutely indisputable,” Bilawal asserted, recalling that the PPP had made every sincere efforts for political dialogue and consensus to resolve the deadlock over polls in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa earlier this year.
“Our aim was to reach a consensus on election days not only for the provinces of Punjab and KP but also for general elections. Unfortunately, the events of May 9 stymied these efforts and today we find ourselves where we are,” he added.
Bilawal’s remarks come as the PPP has stepped up the demand of holding timely polls and censured attempts to delay elections beyond the timeline set by the ECP.
‘Looking towards judiciary’
During his speech, Bilawal also pointed out that democracy was “under threat” and the nation was looking towards the judiciary. “It is important to safeguard the Constitution and relentlessly pursue those who have subverted it,” the PPP chairman said.
He complained about the judiciary’s partisan behaviour in the past, referring to the 2013 and 2018 elections, adding that he hoped “this time will be different.”
“I expect that in interpreting the Constitution, the judiciary will expand the powers of all democratic institutions and not merely its own. We have, however, witnessed the judiciary has enhanced its own powers and undermined that of other institutions.
“We value the independence of judiciary … it is a cardinal principal of a democratic society. However, I sometimes feel the independence of judiciary has been taken too far,” Bilawal said.
The PPP chairman said that the independence of the judiciary should not mean “independence from accountability”.