Pressure mounts on EC to reverse decision
ISLAMABAD, May 6: The Election Commission is likely to reverse its decision to postpone the by-elections after severe criticism from all major political parties and civil society organisations.
Sources told Dawn that an announcement was likely in a couple of days.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari called on Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani here on Tuesday and both of them agreed that there was no justification for postponing the by-election. They decided that the federal government would approach the Election Commission with a request to reverse its decision.
“We have decided that the government will seek by-elections in June,” Information Minister Sherry Rehman said.
Ms Rehman, who had attended the meeting, said the party and the government believed that there was no reason to postpone the by-elections.
The sources said it had been decided that the federal government would request all provinces to send letters to the Election Commission asking it to make arrangements for the by-polls in June. They said the NWFP government, which had sent a request to the commission seeking the postponement, would be requested to withdraw its report on law and order situation in the province and send a new report.
Kunwar Dilshad, the EC secretary, said the commission could ‘review’ its decision keeping in view the public opinion and the feedback from political parties.
He, however, said the decision depended on whether the commission received a revised letter from the NWFP government on the law and order situation. If the NWFP government sent a fresh report, the chief election commissioner and the four members would hold a meeting to take a decision.
The Election Commission had on Monday postponed for two months the by-elections for eight national and 30 provincial assembly seats scheduled to be held on June 18. It had cited a “deteriorating law and order situation” for the decision.
The sudden decision sent shockwaves across the country and the leaders of all major political parties, including Prime Minister Gilani, criticised it, terming it a violation of the Constitution. Some leaders and ministers termed the move part of a “conspiracy against the new government”.
NWFP Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain claimed on Monday night that the provincial government had sought the postponement only after the prime minister’s adviser, Rahman Malik, had made a request.
The Pakistan Muslim League-N lambasted Mr Malik and demanded his immediate removal for “attempting to destabilise the coalition government at the behest of President Pervez Musharraf”.
Most PPP leaders refused to speak, bleating that Mr Malik had made the move because of some “miscommunication”.
Sources told Dawn that Mr Zardari had asked Mr Malik to explain his position and he was satisfied with the reply.