LONDON: “It is a matter of great concern that foreign diplomats and other personalities are taking undue advantage and doing interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs particularly the election affairs”, Javed Raja, Convenor, Peace International, UK, has observed this with apprehensions.
He referred this while taking notice over meetings of US ambassador Donald Blome with Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq and comments of Senior US diplomat Victoria Nuland with Pakistan’s interim Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani.
US Ambassador Donald Blome held a detailed meeting with Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar on Friday and at this occasion, Prime Minister reaffirmed the government’s desire to further strengthening bilateral cooperation with the United States in the key areas including trade and investment, energy, security, and climate change.
Javed Raja said that though Pakistan and the US enjoyed longstanding and broad-based relations, rooted in mutual respect, common interests and shared values but the way that US diplomat showing his anxiety over election issue is absolutely of a great concern for every patriotic Pakistani citizen as himself is.
Noting the role that the U.S. private sector has traditionally played in supporting Pakistan’s economic growth, Javed Raja hoped that that more U.S. companies would explore the investment opportunities, particularly to tap the vast potential for investment in Pakistan’s information technology sector but without interference in Pak internal affairs.
Javed Raja also objected to comments made by foreign diplomats in their interactions with Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja with regard to the upcoming general elections.
“Elections are Pakistan’s internal matter and this issue be sorted out by Pakistan and not by outsiders”, he emphasised urging that Pakistan Government and political leadership of the country must not give any chance to any foreign country to interfere in country’s internal affairs.
It is pertinent to know that the country’s top electoral body has held meetings with all the major stakeholders in order to seek advice and create a consensus for the upcoming general elections.
The ECP has held consultations with various political parties including PPP, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), Balochistan National Party (BNP), Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) and Awami National Party (ANP).
Javed Raja referred that Acting Deputy Secretary Nuland and Foreign Minister Jilani discussed the importance of timely, free and fair elections in a manner consistent with Pakistan’s laws and constitution. They discussed broadening and deepening the US-Pakistan partnership on issues of mutual concern, including Pakistan’s economic stability, prosperity and continued engagement with the IMF.
Javed Raja recalled that Pakistan was scheduled to go to polls by November after the National Assembly was dissolved and a caretaker government announced earlier this month, but following a decision by the Council of Common Interests to approve results of digital census and its notification two days prior to NA dissolution, the ECP had announced a schedule to delimit the constituencies, going beyond the constitutional deadline to conduct the polls.
On August 17, the ECP announced the schedule of new delimitations to be carried out as per the new census approved by the CCI. As per the schedule, the new delimitation of constituencies nationwide will be notified in December this year. The ECP schedule showed that fresh delimitation will take nearly four months, meaning the general elections in the country cannot be held within 90 days of the dissolution of the provincial and national assemblies.
“Election Commission has promised with political leaders that elections may be held in mid-February and one should be hopeful for this time frame”, Javed Raja said.