Punjab’s right to vote in political elections
Author: Flavia Gkioka
Team Pakistan Researcher,
Global Human Rights Defense
The government of Pakistan insists on implementing simultaneous elections in all assemblies even if two provinces — Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa — currently do not have an elected government. The federal government of Pakistan denied accepting the recent interpretation of the constitution by the Supreme Court regarding election dates in Punjab and questions are rising as to why the government wants to have simultaneous elections. The Pakistani government declares that due to concerns about security and financial matters, it is not possible to hold elections immediately (it should be illustrated that those arguments were rejected by the Supreme Court). With the way elections are being handled, the Government worries that it will almost be impossible to hold free and fair elections under a newly elected Punjab government. Furthermore, 110 million people in Punjab would be denied their right to vote and elect their representatives. The federal government and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) are claiming that they will ensure free and fair elections regardless of the executives in Lahore and perhaps Peshawar, but still, the situation leaves room for questions. Continuing, the ECP asked for a delay of 90 days, however, the Supreme Court allowing the ECP minimum deviation from 90 days is a rather liberal interpretation as the Supreme Court by itself does not have the authority to delay elections (unless it uses the doctrine of necessity that legitimized dictatorships in Pakistan in the past). Also, looking at other parts of the world, synchronized elections have never occurred before.