One doesn’t know who is at Tahirul Qadri’s back. His support for the role of army and judiciary in setting up of the Election Commission and the caretaker setup had raised many eyebrows.
As the SC has all along maintained that the elections must be held on time, it is generally understood that it will not approve of the activities of the TMQ chief which could postpone the elections indefinitely.
Qadri, however, has already got the government to agree to extend the period of the scrutiny of candidates’ papers to thirty days. The extension of the period was aimed at ensuring that the candidates fulfilled the criteria mentioned in various clauses of Article 62.
There is a perception that these clauses leave too much to the discretion of the interpreting authority and any strict interpretation could lead to the disqualification of a fairly large section of the candidates.
It was for the government and the opposition to have replaced these ambiguous clauses with more concrete requirements in consonance with present day realities when they were preparing the 20th amendment. Now they will have to keep a fairly long list of covering candidates to ensure that at least one of them manages to fulfil the criteria.
This time Tahirul Qadri is relying on judiciary to achieve what he failed to get through the long march. He has threatened to challenge the appointment of the EC and the use of discretionary funds at the disposal of the PM, chief ministers and cabinet members.
A committee of prominent lawyers appointed by the government has already held that the EC has been set up in accordance with the constitutional provisions and cannot be reconstituted. The government maintains that the allocated discretionary funds enjoy parliamentary approval.
What strategy the government has to secure the system presently under threat is yet unknown. Meanwhile, the interior minister has said there are reports of grave internal threats to destabilise Karachi in days to come.
With foreign troops leaving Afghanistan and the militants still on the rampage, Pakistan faces a crucial situation.
All organs of state and agencies at its disposal have to ensure a smooth and timely transfer of power. Unless the country has a stable government with a fresh mandate for five years, the army may not get the much needed political support in its fight against militancy.
What is at stake is the integrity and stability of the country. One hopes the SC and the army high command would ensure that none is allowed to create hurdles in the holding of timely polls.