“All is not well in the state of Denmark,” said Shakespeare This referred both to the idea that the ghost is an ominous omen for Denmark and to the larger theme of the connection between the moral legitimacy of a ruler and the state as a whole. In Pakistan, the ruling coalition government is claiming legitimacy, its laws and rulers being established under its constitution, but the PDM government is accused of not having moral legitimacy if its actions are not in accord with moral criteria. Article 6 of the Constitution of Pakistan deals with high treason and states that any person who abrogates or attempts or conspires to abrogate, subverts or attempts or conspires to subvert the Constitution by use of force or show of force or by any other unconstitutional means shall be guilty of high treason. The punishment for this is death or imprisonment for life. The provincial assemblies of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab were dissolved as an aftermath of the political instability in the country. After democratically-elected Prime Minister Imran Khan was removed from the central government in a vote of no-confidence last year, he began to demand a snap election. He held rallies, during which he was shot and injured. In response to the government’s refusal to hold a quick election, Khan dissolved the provincial governments in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where his party remained in power. The Constitution mandates that elections must be held on time, and any attempt to delay or postpone them without valid legal reasons would be unconstitutional. Section 57 of the Election Act of 2017 sets out the timeline for conducting general elections in Pakistan, and the Constitution of Pakistan under Article 224 states that when the National Assembly or a provincial assembly is dissolved, a general election to the assembly shall be held within ninety days after the dissolution. Consequently, delaying the elections is a clear violation of the Constitution and law. Pakistan’s Election Commission (ECP) has postponed elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. A move, which is likely to cause further tension between supporters of former prime minister Imran Khan and the current coalition government. This also defies a recent supreme court ruling, which stated that a new election should be held within 90 days of the Punjab assembly being dissolved. The ECP cited security threats and financial issues as reasons for its decision, claiming that it would be unable to conduct the elections fairly and peacefully and provide an equal playing field for all political parties. Postponement of the elections in two provinces could potentially affect the democratic rights of citizens, specifically of the youth who will cast their vote for the first time. The Supreme Court ordered that the new elections be held within 90 days, but the ECP’s decision to delay the elections by six months was seen by legal experts, as a violation of the Constitution. The case will return to court for resolution. According to a former senator, the election commission was influenced by the government and the political establishment, who are afraid of holding elections when Khan’s popularity is at its peak. He pointed out that the ECP held elections in 2008 and 2013 despite worse security situations. Postponement of the elections in two provinces could potentially affect the democratic rights of citizens, specifically of the youth who will cast their vote for the first time, by denying them the right to elect their representatives through a fair and timely electoral process. Delays could lead to uncertainty, political instability, and disenfranchisement of voters, which could undermine the legitimacy of the elected government. It could also exacerbate political tensions and create an environment of mistrust, which could further deepen the existing political polarization. Moreover, a prolonged delay could lead to the suspension of democratic institutions and the rule of law, which could undermine the democratic fabric of the country. Ultimately, the delay of elections could limit citizens’ participation in the democratic process and undermine their right to have a say in the decision-making process. A delay in elections may not have a direct impact on the exchange rate in Pakistan as exchange rates are mainly affected by economic factors such as inflation, interest rates, and trade balance. However, a delay in elections could lead to political uncertainty and instability, which, in turn, could affect investor confidence and lead to a decline in foreign investments. This, in turn, could have an impact on the exchange rate. Additionally, political uncertainty and instability could lead to a lack of clarity on the economic policies of the government, which could also have an impact on the exchange rate. However, it’s important to note that the relationship between elections, political instability, and exchange rates is complex, and various factors can influence the exchange rate in a country. The Constitution does not allow the government to delay elections due to financial constraints. While financial challenges can, indeed, pose difficulties for the conduct of elections, they cannot serve as a legal basis for postponing them. Therefore, if the government is using the financial crunch as an excuse to delay the elections, it would not be a valid reason, and such an action would be unconstitutional. Any attempt to delay or postpone the elections without legal justification could potentially lead to political tensions, protests, and instability, as the opposition and other stakeholders may see such a move as an attempt to cling to power unlawfully. The decision to postpone the elections can also weaken the position of the Supreme Court in several ways. The legitimacy of the Supreme Court, and other institutions, is based on their ability to uphold the Constitution and protect citizens’ rights. Delayed elections can raise questions about the legitimacy of the government and the institutions that support it. This, in turn, can undermine public trust in the Supreme Court and other institutions, reducing their authority and effectiveness. When elections are delayed, the government may be tempted to exert political pressure on the Supreme Court to maintain its hold on power. This can lead to the manipulation of the court’s decisions, reducing its independence and impartiality. The postponement of elections additionally leads to a lack of oversight of the government’s actions. In the absence of elected representatives, there are fewer opportunities for citizens to hold their leaders accountable for their actions. This can lead to a sense of impunity among government officials, making them more likely to engage in corrupt or illegal activities. Moreover, not holding elections in the provinces can lead to a delay in the appointment of new officials and the implementation of new policies. This can result in a period of uncertainty and disruption in the government’s functioning, which can impact the delivery of public services and the overall development of the province. It is important to note that free and fair elections are a crucial component of any democratic society. The rule of law and sovereignty of the constitution are also fundamental principles that must be upheld in a democratic system. If there are delays in holding elections in Pakistan, it could raise concerns about the government’s commitment to these principles. It could also lead to a perception of an erosion of democratic norms and values. The government and the ECP both are constitutionally bound to ensure that the elections are held on time and in a transparent manner to uphold the principles of democracy and the rule of law. Any delay in holding elections should be justified with valid reasons and not be used to undermine the democratic process. The sequence of recent events in Pakistan, such as the Election Commission’s notification for the KP Elections on October 8, Qazi Faiz Isa’s criticism of the Chief Justice, Justice Mansoor Ali Shah’s dissenting note, the National Assembly’s passing of a bill, and Maryam’s attacks against the Chief Justice who is set to retire on September 16, suggests that the likelihood of the upcoming elections taking place, even in October 2023, is questionable. Though the PDM may find it difficult to announce this at present, it seems that they are using delaying tactics to push back the elections. October is unlikely to resolve their challenges, which revolve around the elimination or control of Imran Khan’s politics. Given their strategic interests, they will likely come up with difficult excuses in September or October, particularly when the new Judge takes on the role of Chief Justice. Despite the lawless efforts of PDM, the Supreme Court of Pakistan declared in its recent ruling that the Election Commission of Pakistan’s decision to delay the election in Punjab was unconstitutional. The court also set May 14 as the date for the poll in the province. The ruling stated that the commission did not have the authority to extend the election beyond the constitutionally mandated 90-day period. The court directed the federal government to provide funds to the ECP and the Punjab government to provide a security plan for the election. The court also ordered returning officers to accept nomination papers until April 10 and publish the candidates’ list by April 19. The ruling emphasized that the elections should be transparent, impartial, and in accordance with the law. With such a clear ruling of the Supreme Court, if the PDM plus coalition and the Election Commission of Pakistan still create hurdles to delay elections, it can have adverse effects on the democracy and constitutional integrity of Pakistan. The writer is a former member of the KP Assembly and President of PTI Women Wing Malakand Region KP. She tweets @SumeraShams and can be reached at Sumerashams3@gmail.com.