Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid on Tuesday suggested that a delay in general elections should be considered by the powers that be so that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is better prepared and hot weather at the end of July has subsided.
Talking to reporters in his hometown of Rawalpindi, he also complained that: “We’re going into elections but still do not have voting lists or a final decision on delimitation.”
Rashid, a key political ally of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, used the rising mercury to make his case, saying: “For the first time in my life, I want to request [sic] the chief justice … My mothers, daughters and sisters would not want to stand in queues for two to three hours in this 50 degree heat.The common man is not capable of standing in queues for three to four hours.
“The ECP must be commended for announcing polling stations and booths, but people cannot climb up three floors in this weather. There is no water in Rawalpindi and power outages are lasting up to four and five hours. It’s 50 degrees in Pindi, [imagine] what the temperature would be in Nawabshah, Rohri.”
Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar has repeatedly said that elections will be held on time. Rashid, commenting on the chief justice’s views, backed off from his stance but said that if elections are to take place on time then political parties should at least be allowed to facilitate their voters.
“[All right] I don’t ask for a 10-15 day [delay]; the chief justice has given his verdict so we will stick to it,” he said.
“Let the elections be on July 25 but then the ECP should also allow us to make arrangements and facilitate people. We’d have to make arrangements for water too at the 1,180 polling stations.”
The AML supremo also appeared to grumble at not being consulted by the PTI over the latter’s candidates for assembly seats.
“Of course, PTI is the bigger party and it has to take these decisions, but my understanding with Imran Khan was that I would also be consulted regarding the PTI’s candidates,” he said. “But so far my consultation has not been sought.”
The one-time information minister, however, remained confident of a ‘historic’ victory in the upcoming polls, saying: “The role that God reserved for me in the Khatm-i-Nabuwwat [movement] has led to all the religious parties of Rawalpindi standing with me and Imran Khan’s alliance. We will claim a historic victory in elections.”