Chief Justice (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial warned that if the talks between the government and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) failed then the Supreme Court would use the Constitution to implement its verdict of holding elections in Punjab on May 14, a private TV channel reported. The warning was issued when CJP Bandial resumed the hearing of the petition seeking simultaneous elections across the country. Apart from the CJP, the three-member bench included Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhtar. The apex court bench heard the PTI petition that challenged the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) order to hold Punjab elections in October. Later, another petition was filed by a citizen, Sardar Kashif Khan, nominating the federal government, the ECP, and major political parties as respondents seeking the holding of polls on the same date across the country. During proceedings, the chief justice said that the government and the PTI could continue the negotiations “if both the parties were interested”, but at the same time expressed displeasure over their “lack of interest” in a substantial dialogue. He also said that the court only had to see if both sides could agree on a date for elections, adding that the SC’s responsibility was to uphold the law and Constitution. After conducting a hearing that lasted nearly two hours, the proceeding was adjourned, with the CJP saying that an appropriate order will be issued. Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Awan, PPP lawyer Farooq H. Naek, PTI leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi, PML-N’s Khawaja Saad Rafique and others were present as the proceeding commenced. At the outset of the hearing, the PPP counsel read out loud the coalition government’s report on talks with the opposition in court. In its reply, the government stated that a “major breakthrough” was achieved during the dialogue. The CJP noted that the response had been signed by the finance minister, emphasising the importance of political leadership in resolving political issues. Additionally, he pressed on the significance of ongoing discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). “The matter in court is constitutional, not political,” the top judge remarked, stressing that the SC had left political matters to political parties. He stressed that the Constitution mandated holding polls within 90 days of the dissolution of assemblies, emphasising that the court had already issued a verdict regarding holding polls within 90 days. CJP Bandial further observed that the court would not sit idle on its verdict for the May 14 polls if negotiations between the political parties failed. He also highlighted that the Constitution binds the court to make sure that its verdict was implemented. “The court’s responsibility is to uphold the law.” Referring to unattributed statements alleging that courts did not respect the Constitution in the past, the CJP said that the court refrained from commenting on such statements as a “mark of respect”. He maintained that decisions made in anger are often not the correct ones, adding: “Therefore, we do not get angry.” The chief justice then asked PPP’s Naek to draw comparisons between discussions held in court and those that occur in the Parliament, noting the importance of the discussion. “See the level of discussion being held here,” he remarked. The top judge said Justice Athar Minallah had raised the point of the dissolution of assemblies, however, the government showed no interest. “Even in a discussion now, no one is talking about the law or the Constitution.” He noted that the seriousness of the government was such that it had not filed a review appeal – on the SC’s verdict. “The government doesn’t want to talk about law but wants to do politics.” Justice Bandial stated that the court won’t respond to politics, saying that he had taken the oath to protect the Constitution. “The government and the opposition will have to become serious,” he observed. “Leave the matter on the political parties … should the court not ensure implementation of the law? Should we turn a blind eye to the public’s interest? “The government is bound to follow the court’s orders,” Justice Bandial maintained. “The court is showing restraint but this should not be considered as our weakness.” CJP also said that the court won’t shy away from sacrifices for ensuring the implementation of the law. “The nation’s jawans have given sacrifices and we are ready to do the same.” At that, Barrister Ali Zafar stated that the PTI had agreed on holding elections across the country on the same day, but the only condition was that assemblies should be dissolved by May 14. “Our second condition is that polls should be held by the second week of July.” The third condition, the lawyer went on, was that the delay in elections should be legalised through a constitutional amendment. Barrister Zafar also highlighted that May 14 was only a few days away but polls funds had not been released yet. “Due to the doctrine of necessity, the election cannot be delayed any further,” he added. Subsequently, PML-N’s Khawaja Saad Rafique came to the rostrum. The Railways minister said he was not a lawyer and was not aware of the etiquette of speaking in court. “But I will speak the truth, nothing but the truth.” Rafique said there was deep mistrust between institutions and political parties. The PML-N leader expressed his dissatisfaction with the judiciary, claiming that it had been “unfair to us since 2017”. However, he clarified that his party did not seek conflict among institutions, especially when the basic needs of the people remain unmet. He also emphasised the importance of transparency in the 90-day demand, as mandated by the Constitution. He warned that in the past, the country had faced disintegration due to the failure to accept election results, pointing out the need for fair and democratic processes. The judge pointed out that elections had taken place even during times of major wars. “Elections took place even during the earthquake in Turkey.” “It seems from your words that you do not want to violate the Constitution,” he told Rafique.