PML-N senior leaders sow seeds of speculation over polls delay

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Following the unanimous green light given to the 7th digital census by the Council of Common Interests (CCI), and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s announcement about conducting upcoming elections on the basis of the new census.

High-profile figures within the incumbent government have subtly hinted at the potential for a delay in the electoral schedule.

The groundwork for conjecture was laid when both Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and Defense Minister Khawaja Asif, in separate statements, suggested the likelihood of a delay due to the necessary redefinition of constituencies following the approved census data, a process that may require additional time.

In an exclusive interview with American media outlet CNN, Khawaja Asif discussed the potential for a delay ranging from one to two months, while affirming that elections must ultimately be held within 90 days.

“In certain circumstances, the commission can delay the election,” Khawaja Asif remarked, adding that such a postponement cannot exceed a two-month period.

Conversely, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah addressed the prospective timeline, indicating that elections based on the new constituency delineations could potentially transpire in the months of February or March.

Sanaullah emphasised the imperative of adhering to the constitutional requirements for constituencies while discussing the process on Samaa TV’s program “Redline with Talat.” He further revealed that deliberations concerning the appointment of a caretaker prime minister remain ongoing, hinting at the possibility of an unexpected contender entering the fray. Notably, he also recognized Hafeez Sheikh’s credentials as a reputable economist.

Regarding the recently conducted census, Sanaullah acknowledged minor reservations from the merged districts in Karachi and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but underlined the broader consensus that has been achieved. Emphasizing the preservation of national interests, Sanaullah asserted the importance of the comprehensive census exercise.

Addressing the arrest of PTI Chairman Imran Khan, Rana Sanaullah addressed the circumstances surrounding the detention. Contradicting claims of any altercation, Sanaullah stated that Khan did not resist during the arrest.

Additionally, he shed light on the conditions of imprisonment, clarifying that the detention facilities offer modest accommodations devoid of luxurious amenities.

As the nation watches these unfolding developments, the specter of a potential election delay looms in the midst of discussions centered around the newly approved digital census and its implications for the electoral landscape.