PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said on Sunday it may be the case that his party’s allies in the erstwhile Pakistan Democratic Movement-led ruling coalition were “scared” and “running away from elections”.
“I have been telling my allies for the past 18 months that if you get scared, you die [in politics].
“Unfortunately, the rest of our political allies have been scared. They are afraid. They run away from by-elections and local government elections, and maybe, they now want to run away from general elections,” he said while addressing the public at the inauguration ceremony of Hussainabad Water Filtration Plant in Hyderabad.
His statement appeared to be a criticism of the PPP’s allies for prioritising delimitation over holding elections within the constitutionally mandated 90-day period following the dissolution of assemblies.
The PPP was one of the major allies in the coalition, which also included the PML-N and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl), that came to power after ousting former prime minister Imran Khan through a no-confidence motion in April last year.
The coalition’s term in the government ended on August 9 with the premature dissolution of the National Assembly, three days ahead of its constitutionally mandated period.
According to Article 224 of the Constitution, elections should be held within 90 days — by November 9 in this case — of the premature dissolution of the NA.
However, the Election Commission of Pakistan has ruled out elections being held this year, citing the need to conduct fresh delimitation of constituencies after the notification of new 2023 digital census results. The ECP refers to Section 17(2) of the Elections Act on the matter, which states: “The commission shall delimit constituencies after every census is officially published.”
For its part, the PPP has taken a tough stance for elections within three months, standing against its former allies who seem to be favouring polls after the completion of the delimitation process, which could stretch them beyond the constitutionally mandated limit of 90 days.
However, PPP Co-Chairperson and Bilawal’s father, Asif Ali Zardari, said in a statement yesterday that “completing the delimitation exercise was necessary before holding polls”.
But, when Bilawal was queried on the statement that seemed a deviation from the PPP’s stance, he stated his preference to stick by decisions made by the party leadership, i.e. elections within 90 days, instead of his father’s stance, saying he was only “bound to follow his father in family matters”.
“You should ask Zardari Sahib [why he issued this statement],” he replied to a question posed by a reporter, who referred to his father’s statement in support of elections being held after fresh delimitation.
“I can only say that it was the party’s decision [to demand elections within 90 days]. We both jointly chaired the CEC (central executive committee) meeting where our legal experts were sure that the Constitution demands elections within 90 days.
“I am bound to President Zardari in our family matters, but as far as political matters, the Constitution and party policy are concerned, I’m bound to follow my workers and the decisions of my party’s CEC,” he said.