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Govt stops funds for Punjab polls

PakistanGovt stops funds for Punjab polls
By: Asem Mustafa Awan

The federal government has stopped the release of funds to the Election Commission for the elections in Punjab. This time, a motion was presented in the National Assembly regarding the release of funds, which was rejected by the House by majority vote. Law Minister Prime Minister Nazir Tarar presented the summary sent by the cabinet as a motion in the House. Earlier, the Standing Committee on Finance had recommended not to release funds without the approval of the National Assembly. Acting Governor State Bank Seema Kamran says that she has told the Supreme Court that he can allocate funds for the election but the approval will be given by the Ministry of Finance.

After hearing on April 4, the Supreme Court ordered the Punjab Assembly elections to be held on May 14 and directed the Finance Ministry to release Rs 21 billion to the Election Commission by April 10. The Supreme Court also urged the Election Commission to inform the Supreme Court on April 11 if funds are not received. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court summoned the Finance Secretary and the Defense Secretary and obtained from them the details of the funds in the treasury and the availability of security personnel for election duty in a sealed envelope. April 11 passed after April 4. Time is passing fast and the final date is approaching on which the Supreme Court has ordered to hold the elections.

Constitutional experts supporting the government and Tehreek-e-Insaf agree that holding elections within 90 days of the dissolution of the assembly is a requirement of the constitution. This matter is so clear from the constitutional and legal point of view that any ambiguity or doubt does not matter. The problem is that if the government fulfills this constitutional requirement, it seems to lose power and the benefits that come with it. Punjab is the largest province of the country in terms of population. PML-N believes that its leadership in the country cannot bring success in the upcoming elections. Senior leaders of Muslim League-Nawaz believe that if Nawaz Sharif does not return to his homeland and lead the election campaign, his party will be out of power. The issue of Nawaz Sharif’s return home is not straightforward. Thus, in the absence of Mian Nawaz Sharif in Punjab, participation in the election has become a nightmare for the PDM government, especially the Muslim League-Nawaz.
The government can exercise its administrative capacity because the rest of the institutions and sectors have pledged to obey the government in the constitution. Be it security agencies, the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Defense or Ministry of Law. No government can remain in power beyond its constitutional term.

The situation of the country is that by making the issue of resignation of half of the members of the National Assembly controversial, the other half of the members have formed the government. This government of less than half of the members is using simple majority law as a substitute for amending the constitution. This situation is not commendable in any sense. If the parliament is taken hostage by the people, then its status as the supreme power of the people ceases to exist.

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