The ongoing forecast and debate about the expected delay in Pakistan's general elections and extension of the caretaker government's tenure from its mandated 90 days, has prompted western nations and the European Union (EU) to express their reservations and warns Islamabad of consequences in case of a postponement,
Diplomatic sources said that key western countries including the US and UK, have expressed serious concerns over the matter and have warned that a delay in polls might result in consequences, which includes downgrading of bilateral ties.
As per sources in the diplomatic circle, the US and EU believe that elections were the essence of any progressive democratic society, insisting that any delay in polls in Pakistan and concerns that the caretaker setup would remain in office for a long time than its mandated constitutional tenure of 90 days, would only prove counter-productive.
The western concerns and warning have rung alarm bells in Islamabad as the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced the fresh delimitation exercise schedule in reference and accordance with the new digital census 2023, pushing the polls ahead till at least February 2024.
As per the Pakistan Constitution 1973, elections are to be held within 90 days of the dissolution of Assemblies.
In the last meeting of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) during the previous government of Shehbaz Sharif, the new digital census was approved and it was mutually agreed by all coalition political parties that elections should be done as per the new census and delimitations.
ECP maintains that it was bound by the law to redraw the constituencies before the next elections, which it maintained would take time till December 14, 2023.
It is only after the delimitation process that preparations to hold elections would start, which it stated would take between two to three months.
Experts say that despite the fact that the west is conveying its concerns and warning of consequences, the technical reasoning of the delay may well work in Pakistan’s favour.
However, if elections are delayed further than February 2024, then it may invoke repercussions.
“If elections are delayed beyond February next year that might invoke serious consequences for the country. Frankly, if elections are delayed beyond February 2024, it will be extremely difficult for us to maintain the same level of bilateral engagement with Pakistan as we are doing now,” said a diplomatic source.
Pakistan cannot afford any hiccups in its bilateral relationship with the US and any negative impact in this regard would have a direct effect on US-led financial institutions, including the International Monetary Fund.