Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial on Thursday urged the ruling alliance (PDM) and the opposition (PTI) to sit together for talks on elections for the sake of the Constitution.
In todays hearing Chief Justice of Pakistan said that no additional time will be given, Court will announce the appropriate verdict today and wont gave any further timeline.
Chief Justice remarked “Please for the sake of the Constitution sit with each other.”
Earlier in Last hearing before Eid-ul-Fitr, the Supreme Court had asked political parties to hold talks on 26th April 26 and come up with a response by April 27 after giving a chance to ruling alliance and opposition reach an agreement.
Supreme Court (SC) on in its 5th April verdict declares the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) 22nd March order to postpone Elections in Punjab null and void ordering to hold poll by 14th of May.
A three-member bench heading by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhtar — announced the reserved verdict on the PTI’s petition challenging the Election Commission of Pakistan’s order postponing the elections in Punjab and KP.
The Supreme Court declared the ECP’s order postponing the provincial assembly elections until 8th October as “unconstitutional” and ordered the government to release Rs21 billion funds for elections in Punjab by April 10.
The top court also directed to conduct Punjab polls on May 14. The SC further directed the caretaker government in Punjab to assist the commission.
Supreme Court also directed Pak Army to provide security for the upcoming elections and also orders to ECP to hold elections.
However, the National Assembly later passed a resolution rejecting the three-member Supreme Court bench’s verdict on the Punjab polls, stating that it would not provide funds to the ECP for polls.
The electoral watch dog informed the Top court that it had not received the required funds from the ministry after which the three-member bench directed the State bank to release funds “directly”.
Earlier in Federal Meeting The deputy governor SBP Seema Kamil said they have allocated Rs.21 billion for the Punjab elections as per the Supreme Court’s ruling, but the central bank does not has the authority to release the funds directly.
Meanwhile, State Minister for Finance and Revenue Aisha Ghaus Pasha emphasised that the SBP cannot spend money without the permission of the parliament.
“If the National Assembly allows funds can be released [to the ECP],” she said, clarifying that even the Finance Division cannot spend without seeking permission from the cabinet and the lower house.
At the outset of the hearing, Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan informed the court that the first contact between the government and the opposition took place on 19th April, and they agreed to meet on 26th April.
He stated that federal ministers Ayaz Sadiq, Saad Rafique met PTI leader Asad Qaiser, who said that he didn’t not have the authority to hold talks.
He further said that the coalition partners addressed the reservations of two political parties for talks with the PTI in yesterday’s meeting.
The Attorney General said that the members of the ruling coalition met on Wednesday. Two of the coalition partners had objections to the negotiations, but they found a way out, he added.
At this, CJP Bandial inquired what the government did after Qaiser informed them about his inability to hold talks.
The AGP replied that they got to know on Tuesday through the media that PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi had the authority to hold talks.
Awan informed the court that Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani had written to the government and opposition and sought four names from the Treasury and Opposition benches in the Parliament each.
The CJP then asked that in what capacity was the Senate chairman approached. At this, AGP Awan responded that the senate chairman was asked to intervene as his office was a “symbol of the federation”.
CJP Bandial remarked that he Farooq H Naek had on the previous hearing that Senate chairman will facilitate the talks.
“Senate chairman is neither the representative of the government and nor the opposition. If the government is serious about negotiations, it would have taken action itself,” the CJP remarked.
“The court cannot force [parties] on a dialogue. The court only wants implementation on the Constitution so that the dispute is resolved,” the top judge added. He said that the court did not need any clarification but a solution to the issue.
On talks in Senate, the CJP stated that the it will take time for the chairman to summon a meeting.
At this point, PPP’s lawyer Naek said that all parties in the ruling alliance were willing to negotiate with PTI.
“Senate is the only institution where all parties have a representation,” he added. He added that negotiations were to be done by committee and political leaders.
“It is a political issue, so political leaders should be allowed to solve the problem. Let politicians decide the future of politics,” said Naik.
PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi told the court that there was “no consensus” within the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) on talks. He added that his party took the court’s order seriously while the government was “trying to violate the Constitution”.
“The court provided an opportunity to the political parties for the sake of national interest. [However] PTI has not been contacted [as of yet],” said Qureshi.
CJP Bandial then remarked that one has to be patient in the matter of negotiations.
Naik then told the bench that PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has been convinced for talks in the Senate.
“The court has not made an order it’s just an advice. If there is no consensus for the sake of national interest and Constitution then things will remain as they are,” said CJP Bandial. He also wondered why there was delay in proposing names of representatives for talks and asked whether the government had proposed its five names.
“Government’s names will be finalised within three to four hours. If the PTI wants then it can give three names but five [senators] are important,” said Naik.
CJP Bandial then suggested that Naik be included in the talks so he can cool down the temperature. He also remarked that it seems that the government was playing tactics on talks.
While wrapping up the hearing for today, CJP Bandial remarked that the court will not issue any directives nor will it issue a timeline for the talks. However, he added that the court will issue an appropriate order and order is issued by today.
Later, the hearing was adjourned by the SC.
PTI Rejects Senate Offer
The PTI rejected the proposal of Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani regarding the formation of a 10-member special parliamentary committee with equal representation from both sides to start a dialogue to end the deadlock.
The offer came after the top court in it last hearing before Eid-ul-Fitr directed the political parties to hold a dialogue in a bid to reach a consensus on the date of elections in the country.
The hearing was then adjourned till today (27th April ) after the key ruling parties — Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) — assured the SC they would sit with PTI and try to find a solution on the election date.
Despite a thaw in strict stances on both sides, the talk hasn’t yet happened.
However, the ruling alliance has proposed the formation of a 10-member parliamentary committee with equal representation from both sides for talks on holding elections across the country on the same date, in line with the SC order.
The development came after a meeting of the ruling allies on Wednesday, where Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had said that a parliamentary committee would discuss the terms of talks between the allied parties and the PTI.
Meanwhile, the PTI has also formed a three-member committee for talks with the ruling alliance for elections on the same day.
Vote of Confidence
Some sources said that, The National Assembly Secretariat ‘directed’ to prepare supplementary agenda as Prime Minister (PM) Shehbaz Sharif is considering to take a vote of confidence from the Parliament.
The coalition partners of the incumbent government proposed PM Shehbaz Sharif to seek vote of confidence from NA amid the Supreme Court’s deadline regarding general elections in Punjab.
All the treasury benches members have been directed to ensure their attendance in today’s NA session. The decision to take a vote of confidence will be taken after SC’s verdict in the polls delay case.