Pakistan’s Federal Cabinet has decided to bring the issue of funding for the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for holding elections in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa to Parliament. The decision was taken after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chaired a cabinet meeting to address the political and constitutional crises in the country.
The Supreme Court had ordered the federal government to provide Rs21 billion in funds to the ECP by April 10 and directed the electoral body to submit a report on the matter by April 11. The verdict also stated that the court would give instructions to the relevant authorities if the funds were not provided. However, instead of following the court’s order, the federal cabinet chose to debate the matter in Parliament before approving and issuing funds for the provincial elections.
The cabinet meeting also discussed legal consultations and the coalition government’s strategy in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling that elections in Punjab be held on May 14. The cabinet also deliberated on tabling the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill, 2023, which aims to limit the Chief Justice of Pakistan’s powers to take suo motu notice and form benches on his own, in the joint session of Parliament for approval.
The federal cabinet approved the decisions taken by the National Security Committee (NSC) in its meeting on Friday, which included launching a comprehensive operation against terrorists. The coalition government faces off with the judiciary following the Supreme Court’s ruling, and the National Assembly passed a resolution declaring that parliament rejected the court’s verdict regarding the election in Punjab.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan accused the PDM coalition government of calling the NSC meeting to use national security as a pretext for postponing the elections. He also criticized the government for introducing an “unconstitutional bill” on the apex court and passing a National Assembly resolution against the judiciary.
The federal cabinet’s decision to bring the issue of funding for the ECP to Parliament indicates a willingness to address the matter through the proper channels. However, the ongoing tensions between the government and the judiciary could further complicate the situation.