KARACHI: PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Friday demanded elections “as soon as possible” and within the constitutional limit of 90 days.

Speaking to the media in Karachi, the former foreign minister said that the people of the country were facing three major issues at the moment — inflation, unemployment and poverty.

“The PPP’s stance is that we don’t have a political enemy or a political opponent. Our fight is against poverty, unemployment and inflation,” he said. Bilawal said that the PPP had always helped the people of the country and given aid to the impoverished.

“Through its performance, the PPP has always proven that it does people-friendly politics and governance. And that is why the PPP still says that elections should be held as soon as possible, according to the Constitution and within 90 days so that we can win the polls and serve the people of the country and take them out of these difficult economic times.”

The ECP has ruled out elections this year, while the 90-day limit for holding polls following the dissolution of the National Assembly (NA), as mandated under Article 224 of the Constitution, ends on November 9.

It reasons its decision to push elections beyond November 9 on the basis of the notification of results of the new digital 2023 census and Section 17(2) of the Elections Act, which states: “The commission shall delimit constituencies after every census is officially published.”

During his media talk, the PPP chairman was also asked about the recent statement by Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) emir Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who headed the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), wherein he claimed that general elections would have been held by now if the PPP had not gone back on its words.

Talking to journalists in Lahore, the JUI-F chief had said that all component parties of the PDM had agreed to hold elections early last year but the PPP went back on its promise and then all parties decided to bring the no-confidence motion against the then-prime minister Imran Khan.

In his response, Bilawal said that the Maulana was a senior politician, adding that he did not wish to go into much detail about the statement made by the PDM chief.

“But I will tell you this: PPP was ready for elections before, was ready for elections on May 14 and was ready for elections in 60 days and is ready for elections in 90 days according to the Constitution,” he said.

The PPP chairman also said that there was a difference in between how the PPP, the PDM and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) interpreted the Constitution.

He reiterated that the PPP believed that elections should take place within 90 days, adding that the rest thought that they should take place after the delimitation exercise was concluded.

He said that the PPP engaged with the ECP on this issue, following which the electoral watchdog brought the dates for delimitation forward. At the same time, however, Bilawal urged the ECP to announce the dates and the schedule for elections.

He also took issue with the ECP’s decision to transfer police, provincial secretaries and commissioners of all divisions in Sindh. He insisted that transfers could not be carried out until the election schedule was announced.

He also said that ongoing development and welfare schemes were also being stopped in the province and called on the ECP to review its “two-faced” system.

In response to another question, Bilawal said that his father, ex-president Asif Ali Zardari, had been in politics for more than 30 years and spent the longest time behind bars.

“And today we are hearing that those politicians who have to go through this ordeal are facing difficulties,” he said in a reference to the PTI chairman.

“So we are trying to give them a message and offer them support. We are trying to tell them that ghabrana nahi hai (do not worry). Now is the time for you and politicians like you […] to learn. You are being given experience and training and you are now being made a politician.”

Bilawal said that the puppets imposed on the country had attacked sensitive military installations on May 9. He said that those who participated in the attacks had to be taught a lesson so that no one could think of repeating the same in the future.

“And it is also a message for those who make puppets, are in search of puppets, who want to impose puppets onto the country […] that the people of Pakistan have warned you that stop conducting such experiments on us. Let the people make their own decisions.

“If the people of Pakistan choose Mian Shehbaz Sharif sahib or Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif sahib then we should all accept it. If the people choose PPP, then all should accept it. And maybe I may not like this, but if the people choose PTI, then we will have to accept it.”

Meanwhile, former interior minister Rana Sanaullah posted on social media platform X that there was no need to panic. “General elections will be held in February,” he said, adding that PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif would lead the party’s electoral campaign.

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