Balochistan Assembly passes resolution seeking one-month delay in elections | Pakistan

QUETTA: Balochistan Assembly on Wednesday adopted a resolution seeking a one-month delay in the upcoming general elections in the province.

Chief Minister Balochistan Abdul Quddus Bizenjo said that the resolution is being misinterpreted by certain quarters and that they were only requesting the federation for a one-month delay in elections. 

“Every eligible Pakistani should have the right to cast his vote. We don’t even know about our constituencies yet,” he said.

Last week, President Mamnoon Hussain approved a summary sent by the Election Commission of Pakistan for the general elections to be held on July 25, 2018.

The incumbent governments in the centre, Balochistan and Punjab are set to complete their five-year term on May 31. The caretaker government in the centre, under the leadership of Justice (retd) Nasirul Mulk, will then take over to ensure a smooth transition of power after the elections.

Following the adoption of the resolution, the session of the Balochistan Assembly was adjourned until 3pm on Thursday.

The resolution

The resolution, moved by Balochistan Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti, demanded that the elections should be held in August, instead of July this year, because “a majority of the public wants to undertake Hajj for which [many] would be travelling to Saudi Arabia in July” and hence, they would be unable to vote in the elections.

A copy of the resolution demanding delay in general elections 

The resolution also expresses concern that the province receives monsoon downpours during the month of July, due to which many districts face flooding and a lot of residents are forced to move to other areas for shelter. Such a situation would deprive these people of the opportunity to vote, it states.

Keeping these concerns in mind, the provincial government is therefore requested to ask the federal government to instead hold the elections in the last week of August so that everyone can exercise their constitutional right to vote, the resolution adds.

‘A dangerous act’

Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) lawmaker Ubaidullah Babat called delay in polls, ‘ a dangerous act’, he expressed his regret over the resolution.  Balochistan Opposition leader Abdul Rahim Khan Ziaratwal claimed that the movers of the resolution aims to derail democracy. 

“It’s a common perception that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz chief is going to win the polls. We oppose this resolution because the delay is meant to switch loyalties of PML-N members,” he said.

Home Minister Bugti responded to the allegation by saying that he has not done anything unconstitutional by tabling the resolution. 

The assembly session has been adjourned until 3 pm (Thursday).

Altercation between Home Minister, PkMAP lawmaker

An altercation was seen between Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti and PkMAP lawmaker Naasarullah Zerey during the session.

The spat broke out immediately after the government tabled Balochistan’s assessment and examination bill for vote as the PkMAP legislator Liaquat Agha maintained that the bill was presented only a day after its approval from the provincial cabinet.

“It’s unconstitutional to table the bill at the last assembly session. There should have been at least three- day debate on the bill in the assembly,” he said. The friction intensified when Speaker Raheela Durrani directed PkMAP lawmaker Ubaidullah Babat to leave the assembly as he called the house, ‘Office of Martial Law Administrator’.