ISLAMABAD, Sep 16: In a bid to end the uncertainty surrounding the general elections, Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar on Saturday vowed that the interim government will not make any excuse for delay in polls.
In an interview with the Voice of America ahead of his departure for the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, the caretaker premier affirmed that measures would be taken to ensure that the election process proceeds smoothly without disruptions and emphasised upon the commitment to upholding the democratic process in the country.
“Elections will not be delayed due to the situation at borders or law and order issue,” the premier expressed his resolve.
He also expressed the confidence to overcome security threats at the country’s borders and complete the electoral process.
The premier reiterated that it was the prerogative of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to announce a date for the general elections in the country and expressed the hope that the electoral watchdog would complete the process honestly as it had already initiated certain steps.
He said that the interim set-up was ready to assist the ECP regarding the provision of financial resources and security for the polls.
Responding to a question about the delay in holding of elections in two provinces in the past, the prime minister observed that there might have been certain issues at that period which were accepted by different forums.
‘Elections not possible in 90 days’
Days before the dissolution of the assemblies, the Council of Common Interest (CCI) approved the 7th Population and Housing Census 2023, making it almost certain that elections may not be held within the constitutionally stipulated limit of 90 days.
The CCI approval made it constitutionally mandatory for the poll watchdog to hold elections following fresh delimitations in the light of the results of the 7th census.
Subsequently, on August 17, the ECP announced the schedule of new delimitations to be carried out as per the new census approved by the CCI.
As per the schedule, the new delimitation of constituencies nationwide will be notified in December this year. The ECP schedule showed that fresh delimitation will take nearly four months, meaning the general elections in the country cannot be held within 90 days of the dissolution of the provincial and national assemblies.
To a query, PM Kakar said that there was freedom of expression in the country and their indicators in the region were much better in this regard.
“Media has the freedom and can raise voice or air any issue regarding the government, its institutions or the economic issues,” he asserted.
About Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s cases, he strongly rebutted the impression that efforts were being made to keep the deposed premier out of politics.
He said it was a sub-judice matter as there were allegations against him, adding the impression that his arrest was not correct and hoped that the judicial process would be transparent.
Replying to another question, he said that the caretaker government was functioning due to a continuing constitutional process and he was nominated by the former Leader of the House and the opposition in the National Assembly.
“Will continue raising Kashmir issue’
He reaffirmed that Pakistan would continue raising the Indian Illegally Occupied and Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) issue at all the global and regional fora because it had been the oldest and unresolved agenda item of the United Nations Security Council.
He said that Islamabad had been consistently and regularly defending and advocating the Kashmir issue at all the available multilateral and regional fora and would continue to do till its resolution.
There were gross human rights violations in IIOJK, the entire area had been turned into the largest prison in the world, while Kashmiris’ voices were stifled, he maintained.
‘Durable peace in Afghanistan’
The caretaker prime minister maintained that Pakistan was playing its part for a durable peace in Afghanistan and the region and was engaged with the Taliban and the international community at all the relevant forums.
He said that Taliban had made a commitment under Doha agreement that Afghan soil would not be used against any country for terrorism. He said that they were addressing Afghan transit issues including the illegal trade, adding that trade ties were not only improving with Afghanistan but also with all the Central Asian Republics as they all realised the significance of regional trade connectivity.
To a query regarding terrorist attacks from Afghan soil, he said Pakistan reserved the right to defend against any terrorist activity and would take necessary steps to defend its people and land whenever needed.
However, when the time arose, they would take appropriate decisions in this regard, he said without divulging further details.
Responding to a question, PM Kakar said that his statement regarding the falling of weapons, left behind by the US and NATO in Afghanistan, in the hands of terrorist outfits was not meant to level any allegations against the US or any other country, and the impression in this regard was incorrect.
The prime minister downplayed the isolation of Islamabad and said that Pakistan enjoyed strong relations with the Arab, Gulf and other regional countries. While the decades of relationship with the West would grow further stronger in the coming years, he added.