On Tuesday, the defence ministry requested the Supreme Court to retract its April 4th order that had set May 14th as the date for the Punjab Assembly elections. This request was made through an application, which was presented to the Supreme Court along with a report.
The report was given in compliance with the Supreme Court’s orders to the State Bank of Pakistan and other departments to furnish reports after providing Rs21 billion to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. It is likely that the three-member bench would review these reports in chambers on Wednesday, and the matter will probably be heard in an open court on Wednesday or Thursday.
The defence ministry’s application requested the apex court to issue directives for holding general elections to the national and all provincial assemblies simultaneously after the completion of the national assembly and Sindh and Balochistan assemblies’ terms.
The report stated that the elections should be held on the same day due to the heightened security situation in the country, and the armed forces would be available to carry out election duties by early October.
The report also argued that the armed forces, Rangers, Frontier Constabulary, and other forces are not logistically available to be repositioned and re-posted for providing election security twice in six months because much of the force has been actively engaged in operations for a considerable period.
According to the ECP’s report, staggering the elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would be more expensive and increase the risk of violence as miscreants would have more chances to plan attacks. The ECP also emphasised that political polarisation could trigger violence and increase the risk to public safety during the election. If the Supreme Court directs the holding of staggered elections, the conduct of the election would be possible in six phases as the re-alignment of forces from one location to another for the next phase of the election will take approximately one month with additional burden on the public exchequer.
Finally, the finance ministry stated that it was challenging to release funds for holding elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa since the National Assembly had rejected the government-sponsored motion to grant Rs21 billion for meeting expenditures.