Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar on Friday said that announcing the election date was beyond the mandate of the interim government.
The premier passed similar remarks earlier this week too when he stated that it was for the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to decide a date, adding: “We have no intention to prolong the tenure of the caretaker government.”
Concerns on the poll timing have arisen from the ECP ruling out elections this year. It reasons its decision to push elections beyond November 9 on the basis of the notification of results of the new digital 2023 census and Section 17(2) of the Elections Act, which states: “The commission shall delimit constituencies after every census is officially published.”
Speaking at a press conference after a high-level meeting at the PM House today, PM Kakar once again ruled out the prospect of declaring the poll date.
In response to a question, he said, “If I were to announce elections, I would be engaging in an unlawful act, and as a journalist, you should be aware that if you steer us towards illegal actions and pose questions that might tempt us to break the law, then what should my response be?”
Actions against cross-border smuggling
The PM also stated that an effective management plan was actively being implemented to curb cross-border smuggling. “We have zero tolerance for those involved in the smuggling industry and the law will take its course,” he asserted.
Kakar further mentioned that extensive discussions had taken place regarding the Afghan transit trade agreement and the reopening of the Torkham border.
He noted that the commerce ministry had taken a lead role, working in collaboration with border management authorities, including customs, to revise policies governing the allowance or restriction of trade items.
Furthermore, the premier dismissed the notion that cracking down on smuggling would deprive the local population along the bordering areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan of their livelihoods. He emphasised that these provinces deserved a legitimate and thriving trade environment, not smuggling.
Asked about the involvement of Afghan refugees involved in cross-border smuggling, Kakar said an effective policy in this regard had been agreed upon.
He categorised Afghans living in Pakistan into three types: those registered with the government, “aliens with no justification to reside”, and those with “identity theft”.
“We will push the [Afghan] aliens back to their country and no one without the visa regime will be allowed to live here,” he asserted.
Moreover, PM Kakar said he had been receiving “positive news” in the past eight to 10 days from all provinces regarding measures taken by their respective administrations against hoarding and smuggling.
The PM stressed the importance of enhanced coordination in such efforts and highlighted that a collaborative approach would contribute to the improvement of respect for and the authority of government officials.