Two policemen walk past the Supreme Court building in Islamabad. — Reuters/File


Two policemen walk past the Supreme Court building in Islamabad. — Reuters/File
  • JI suggests holding polls after Eid ul Adha. 
  • CJP backs suggestion on polls post Eid ul Adha.
  • PPP, PML-N assure SC of holding talks with PTI.

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the political parties to sit together on elections today and given an update to the bench hearing the same date election case by 4pm today. 

The directives came after the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) assured the Supreme Court that they will sit with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and try finding a solution on the election date.

PPP’s Farooq H Naek and PML-N’s Khawaja Saad Rafique assured the three-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial of holding talks with the opposition party.

“We will hold talks with PTI so agitation ends,” Naek told the Supreme Court.

While Khawaja Saad Rafique told the court: “[We] are ready to find a solution on the election date by sitting with the opposition.”

Same assurance was made by PTI’s Shah Mahmood Qureshi. 

A three-member bench comprising CJP Bandial and comprising Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhtar is hearing the election delay case.

At the outset of the hearing, the CJP appreciated Jamat-e-Islami chief Siraj ul Haq for making efforts to initiate a dialogue between the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the government.

“You have undertaken a good initiative. May Allah succeed you,” CJP Bandial told the JI chief.

The top judge then turned to PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi and asked if his party was okay with the Supreme Court’s advice on holding talks.

“PTI believes that the country should move ahead with constitutional supremacy. PTI always believes in the Constitution, whatever the Supreme Court orders we will accept it,” Qureshi told the CJP.

The CJP then inquired about Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan’s whereabouts.

AGP Awan apologised to the court for being late and informed him that the government officials will be late as they thought the hearing would resume at 11:30am.

The CJP then adjourned the hearing for 15 minutes.

CJP thanks PPP’s Zardari for backing court

Upon the resumption of the hearing, the lawyer representing one of the petitioners maintained that all the issues will be resolved if the polls are held on the same date.

“We hope that all the parties will agree to a single point,” Shah Khawar said.

At this, CJP Bandial remarked that court verdicts create complications.

“It’s a blessing if the political parties settle the matter through mutual understanding,” he added.

He said that the court will hear the government first and directed the representatives to inform the court about the one-point agenda on the elections.

The top judge also appreciated the top leadership of the country for attending the hearing at the court’s call.

“The nation is anxious, there would be peace if the leadership resolves the issue,” CJP Bandial remarked.

The top judge commended the Ministry of Defence for a good briefing on the matter and thanked PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari for agreeing to the court’s suggestion of talks.

“It is a good that the PML-N has also agreed to our suggestion,” CJP Bandial said.

Ruling coalition back talks

At this, Naek maintained that the ruling coalition always had the same stance that elections should be held simultaneously as the 90 days period has expired in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He said that the coalition government is holding consultations over polls on the same day and will engage PTI and allies on the matter right after Eid-ul-Fitr.

After this, Khawaja Saad Rafique proceeded to the rostrum.

He said that his party was ready for dialogue with the opposition to find a solution and elections on the same day.

“We politicians are friends with each other. Social media has a big role in showing differences,” Rafique said.

Meanwhile, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq said that BNP-Mengal leaders were currently in Chaghi but the stood by the government.

“A solution would come out if we sit together,” he said.

Moreover, PPP’s Qamar Zaman Kaira said that he agreed to Rafique’s statement. He said that his party was the first to initiate consultations with the allies.

PML-Q’s Tariq Bashir Cheema said that they had been calling for elections on the same day from day one.

“We will support elections on the same day in all circumstances,” Cheema said.

Meanwhile, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s (MQM-P) Sabir Qaimkhani said that they stood by the apex court and will accept the decision made mutually.

“We support simultaneous polls and dialogue,” Qaimkhani said.

Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) leader Israrullah Tareen told the court that holding polls on the same date is important as small provinces like Balochistan will get affected.

PTI fears govt may prolong talks

CJP Bandial then summoned PTI’s Qureshi on the rostrum.

Qureshi told the bench that his party is ready for polls and will support the dialogue take political matters forward.

On the Punjab polls, Qureshi commented: “PDM said if Punjab Assembly will be dissolved then we will dissolve the National Assembly. We dissolved the provincial assembly on PDM’s advice.” He added that the legal way forward was “clear” but they will also look at the “political way” forward.

“PML-N went back on its stance,” said Qureshi. He added that the PTI is ready for “comprehensive talks” if they are held within the ambit of the constitution.

The PTI vice chairman also told the court that his party feared that the government may prolong the talks.

On the issue of funds related to the polls, Qureshi said that the government’s decision to run the country via Parliament would lead to “anarchy”.

“If reasonable suggestions are put forward then a way forward would come,” said Qureshi.

On this point, PML-N’s Rafique came to the rostrum again and said that they didn’t agree to any statement given by Qureshi. He also added that the court should not be turned into a “debate club”.

While, PPP’s Kaira said that there shouldn’t be any harsh remarks in the court.

“We will make political debates on our Parliament’s forum,” he said.

Kaira further stated that there wasn’t any such thing that the government would try to prolong the issue of elections.

“We assure the court of not wasting the time beyond the constitutional period,” Kaira added.

Moving on, CJP Bandial called Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed to the rostrum.

The politician said that the court’s decision will be the entire nation’s decision. He however, expressed fear that the matter will be delayed till Eid-ul-Azha.

JI chief suggests polls after Eid ul Adha

Once, JI chief Siraj-u-Haq came to the rostrum he suggested holding polls across the country after Eid-ul-Adha.

Sharing his arguments before the court, Haq maintained that the elections was an issue for the entire nation instead of a couple of political parties. He said that his party was with neither PTI nor PDM.

He then suggested holding polls on a “suitable date” after Eid-ul-Azha.

“The judiciary should leave this matter to the political parties and honour itself,” Haq said.

“Elections within 90 days has come to 105 days. If 105 days can be possible then 205 can also be possible,” said Haq. He added that judiciary, army and Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) should stay away from politics and urged everyone to take a step back from their stance.

Court not overturning decision on Punjab polls: CJP

Meanwhile, PPP’s Naek requested the court to allow the ECP to extend the date for the polls so parties can issue tickets.

“After the court order Election Commission cannot extend the date for the polls,” said Naek.

CJP Bandial remarked that ECP can make changes to the schedule without changing the date of the polls.

However, the top judge said that Supreme Court will ensure its May 14 decision is in place.

“Supreme Court’s decision of holding polls on May 14 will not be taken back,” said CJP Bandial. He added that no political party leader termed the decision on polls incorrect.

“Negotiations can be successful if it’s a two-way street. It is requested that the party leaders sit today, rather than after Eid,” said CJP Bandial.

The top judge also suggested that elections can be held in July after Eid Ul Azha as suggested by JI chief.

At this, PPP’s counsel stated that the ruling alliance will talk to Maulana Fazl ur Rehman during the Eid holidays.

However, CJP Bandial remarked that PPP’s Bilawal Bhutto made good efforts and hoped that JUI-F chief would show leniency.

“Court will not take back its May 14 decision [and] court decision cannot be ignored. Reversal of court decision is not a joke. There is a procedure to overturn court decisions,” said CJP Bandial.

The CJP then directed all political parties to initiate dialogue right away and inform the court by 4pm today. 

SC summons all political parties

SC had summoned political parties after AGP Awan informed the three-member bench that the government was seeking dialogue with the PTI over elections.   

The bench issued notices to the political parties while CJP Bandial remarked that they will try to wrap up the case after Eid ul Fitr as soon as possible.

The summons were issued during the three pleas heard altogether by the CJP-led bench asking the court to hold elections across the country on the same date.

One of those pleas was filed by the Ministry of Defence seeking elections across the country on the same date and requested the court to withdraw its order directing Punjab polls on May 14.

While two other pleas were filed by citizens also seeking the same directives.

The bench hearing the case is the one that announced the April 4 verdict directing the government and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold snap polls in Punjab on May 14.


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