The federal cabinet has called for an “emergency” meeting on a weekly holiday (today) to decide whether to release funds to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for holding polls in Punjab on May 14 or openly defy the orders of the Supreme Court.
The meeting will be held in Lahore, chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, and most members will participate through video link. Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb has said that the agenda has not been circulated yet, but “significant decisions” may be taken during the meeting.
Sources suggest that the PPP may review its stance on supporting the PML-N’s decision to reject the apex court’s order on Punjab polls at the last minute.
The release of funds for Punjab elections, President Dr Arif Alvi’s decision to return the Supreme Court Bill, and Justice Athar Minallah’s judicial note in the case of the election will also be discussed during the meeting, according to a PML-N insider. The Sharifs are in complete defiance of the CJP-led three-member bench’s decision to hold elections in the province on May 14, and the party is also unanimous on this point.
The premier and cabinet may declare that there are no funds for the May 14 elections and see what action the Supreme Court takes on Monday, said the PML-N insider. He also mentioned that further legislation by parliament to clip the apex court’s powers may be discussed in the meeting.
Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar did not give any hint that the government would be releasing funds to the ECP for the Punjab polls.
Maryam Nawaz has already declared that the party is ready for disqualification, saying that if the Supreme Court decides to issue a contempt notice to PM Shehbaz, they don’t care as they have rejected the three-member bench decision on Punjab polls, which was 4/3.