Vote date hinges on Nawaz’s arrival: PML-N

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LAHORE: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will make the awaited announcement regarding the election date upon the arrival of PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, party sources claimed on Wednesday — lending weight to PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s assertions that polls were being delayed “for the arrival of one person”.

With the former premier’s arrival just around the corner, the PML-N is abuzz with the last-minute arrangements and putting finishing flourishes on welcome preparations. In addition, Greater Iqbal Park is being prepped as a launchpad for the party’s election campaign.

This comes as the general elections still remain a matter shrouded in mystery as the ECP – despite the constitutional obligation of holding elections within 90 days – is following a schedule of its own.

However, a source with the PML-N claimed that the announcement of an election date would come after Nawaz Sharif’s arrival and asserted that even if there were any change of plans, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Qazi Faez Isa would thwart any unconstitutional excursion.

He claimed that Nawaz’s arrival would bring about a great of changes to the political chessboard of Pakistan. Regarding the duration of the interim setup’s tenure, he said that they had been hearing chatter about the caretaker government persisting as long as it suits the powers.

Though in all fairness, he added, establishment was not interested in power per say, as much as they wanted to control the state of affairs of Pakistan economically and otherwise.

According to him, the Nawaz-led rally will exert pressure on even those who may be inclined to extending the current setup, forcing them to give a date for elections.

When asked about any mutual understanding between the establishment and PML-N regarding elections, he said: “There were hopes on both ends.”

Regarding speculation of a prolonged setup, he said that CJP Qazi Faez Isa was their last line of defence, as they believe with him the CJ, the chances of another misadventure were non-existent.

He said that the incumbent CJ would not let them delay their elections and would restore order.

As for the reception of Nawaz Sharif, he claimed a historic welcome will be witnessed by the people.

It is pertinent to mention here that speculations were rife regarding consideration of a prolonged caretaker setup, though with some major changes. The decision, it was speculated, would be entirely dependent on the success of decision making of this regime.

There were rumours that if the country’s economy displayed enough positive signs to convince those above the state, the setup would continue.

The claims by the PML-N insider about ECP specifying a date upon the arrival of the former premier came after Bilawal earlier in the day reiterated the demand to announce a date for the general elections saying, “Pakistan’s democracy, constitution and elections have been stalled for the return of one person.”

Taking a swipe at PML-N, the PPP chairperson said that they hope that after full support of the state, welcome would be big, and a date for election would be announced.

While referring to the PML-N slogan of ‘vote to izzat do’ (give respect to vote), the PPP chairman noted that delaying polls was the ‘beizzati’ (disrespect) of the vote.

“The tenure of [coalition] government of the last 16 months taught us that Pakistan cannot be run from London,” he said while addressing a ceremony related to the 16th anniversary of the Karsaz tragedy in Karachi.

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