ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), one of the coalition partners in the outgoing government, on Saturday backed the election regulator's decision to redraw electoral constituencies ahead of the nationwide elections in the South Asian country, which are expected to be held early next year.
The development took many by surprise as the PPP, a major political party in the country, previously opposed the decision to redraw constituencies, saying there was "no constitutional requirement" for the election regulator to do so ahead of the polls and it must announce a date for elections.
General elections in Pakistan, originally supposed to be held in November, have been delayed after the outgoing government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif approved results of a latest population census before it dissolved the National Assembly on August 9. The move requires the election regulator to redraw federal and provincial constituencies in accordance with the latest census results ahead of announcing a date for polls.
But the PPP co-chairman, Asif Ali Zardari, on Saturday urged the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to "hold the polls according to the constitution."
"After the population census, the election commission is bound to redraw new constituencies," Zardari was quoted as saying by his party in a post on Twitter, rebranded as X. "We have full confidence in the chief election commissioner and all [ECP] members."
In August, the ECP issued a notification stating that it would finalize the delimitation of constituencies by December 14, effectively ruling out polls within the 90-day period. The PPP had opposed the ECP's decision at the time.
However, many were left astonishing on Saturday over not just a shift in the party's stance on the delimitation of constituencies, but its co-chairman's support of the caretaker government of PM Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar as well.
"The caretaker government must complete the projects of the SIFC (Special Investment Facilitation Council) as soon as possible and put the country on the path of development," Zardari said.
"The country is currently going through an economic crisis for which we all should worry about the economy first instead of politics."
The outgoing Pakistani government set up the SIFC in June to attract foreign investment, particularly from Gulf countries. The council, which includes the army chief and other military leaders in key roles, aims to take a “unified approach” to steer the country out of the economic turmoil.
The developments come amid speculation that the caretaker government of PM Kakar would stay in the country for a longer period, particularly after the outgoing administration approved certain amendments to the Elections Act in July.
Under the amendments, the interim setup has been empowered to take action on the ongoing bilateral and multilateral agreements, mainly related to the economy.