Justice delayed is justice denied — a common terminology used in law. But in Pakistan’s political paradigm, it will not be unfair also to say that “an election delayed is election denied’. Consider our history, especially the time between s1977 to 1979, when Asghar Khan almost took oath as prime minister before Ziaul Haq postponed the election. It seems like a similar situation is appearing again in Pakistan. Parliamentarians, for whom public support is a huge asset, spent the last five years in the assembly so that they can return to their respective constituencies and sit again in the parliament for the next tenure. Unfortunately, our politicians are still trying to cause a delay in the elections. Former Balochistan Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti has presented a resolution in Balochistan Assembly demanding a month’s delay in the elections because of the flooding season, which has forced residents to move to other areas for shelter. Furthermore, the resolution says, “many people might travel to Saudi Arabia for Hajj as Eidul Adha will be nearer to the elections.” Secondly, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak wrote a letter to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) requesting a delay because of the recent FATA merger. Khattak further stated that the KP assembly would remain incomplete if FATA remains out of the elections exercise. Therefore, to avoid any disturbance during the next tenure — because FATA will probably have 21 provisional seats, which is a huge number — Khattak believes an alteration in the timetable of polls is necessary. Article 224 of the Constitution will win and defeat all powers who want to delay the election. I fear that a delay for a few days may turn into years — that is what Pakistan’s history has taught us Well, there is a simple formula to get grips with circumstances in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Let the elections be on time and form a government once FATA is practically incorporated and observes elections. Subsequently, whatever party has the majority can make the CM. And when a party with five seats in Balochistan assembly can bring a no-confidence motion against majority party leader Sanaullah Zehri, then why not in KP? Besides it, the resolution of Balochistan assembly vocalises delays in the election due to lack of voters. The delay tactics employed as the caretaker government was being setup also cast doubt over the GE, and ultimately the matter ended up in ECP as per the constitution. The Pakistan Muslim League — Noon (PML-N) had reservations appointing Hasan Askari as the caretaker CM Punjab because of his biased views, he is a prominent political commentator who once wrote about election delays. In that op-ed, Askari was obviously analysing from a different perspective and people who closely know him appreciated his credibility and integrity. However, his credibility as caretaker CM will be eventually decided over his performance. One thing common in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Punjab is that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) are making deliberate attempts to delay elections. PTI’s flip-flop policy on the caretaker CM’s nomination had already given birth to doubts that the party, which is expecting a government at the centre, making it look weak when it comes to decision making. And PTI ought to apprehend that delay in the election will become controversial, as other political parties have already put one’s shoulder to the wheel shouting of political engineering to fabricate a wave in PTI’s favour. But on the contrary, it is the most beneficial environment for PTI to have elections on time as the situation is going in Khan’s favour. And the defection of a lot of electable candidates also points in the same direction. Next is Sindh. The major stakeholder of urban Sindh, MQM(P), has demanded ECP to audit the recently held census across Pakistan to check the anomalies, especially in the population of Karachi. Last year, Farooq Sattar, Chief of MQM(P), had also filed a petition in Supreme Court against the irregularities in the census. Moreover, it was accepted in a CCI meeting in November last year that a third-party audit was needed to verify the official census. However, the government remained engaged in other issues, and the SC verdict is yet to come. Article 128(3) of the Constitution outlines that the ECP should conduct elections fairly, justly, honestly, and in accordance to the law, and guard against corrupt practices. Hence, if the matter is vexed and elections are held without addressing the grievances of MQM(P), then the ECP will in effect violate Article 128(3). And in case the ECP attempts to solve the matter, there is a probability of election delay, which may have farreaching consequences as mentioned above. Notably, the elections can be delayed if three out of four provinces request the ECP. The most significant thing to note is that three provinces have already attempted to create unrest. The caretakers are now functioning in every province and centre, but panic remains at large. This election is going to be the most controversial in the history of Pakistan, as PML-N and MQM(P) have already registered their reservation over the caretaker CM and census respectively. Elections supposedly bring stability, but the anarchy can be obviously expected post-election. And PTI will then realise that the beans they sowed in 2014 are now too difficult to chop. The incompetence of the politicians has produced multiple conspiracies for the upcoming elections. Instead of this ridiculous circus, it should have been their efforts which propelled the country towards a smooth election. Ultimately, Article 224 of the Constitution will win and defeat all powers who want to delay the election. I fear that a delay for a few days may turn into years — that is what Pakistan’s history has taught us. The writer is an academic. He tweets @muhd_hani Published in Daily Times, June 25th 2018.