SC won’t sit idle on Punjab polls verdict if govt-PTI talks fail: CJP

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial said on Friday that the Supreme Court would not “sit idle” on its order on holding elections in Punjab on May 14 if the talks between the government and the PTI failed.

He passed these remarks as the top court resumed hearing the elections schedule case following three-day negotiations between the federal coalition and the opposition to agree on a specific date for nationwide polls.

After the negotiations came to an end on Tuesday, the PTI submitted a report to the court stating that no resolution was reached and requested that the court enforce its April 4 order regarding elections in Punjab.

In the last hearing on April 27, the three-member Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhtar — also made it clear to the negotiating parties that its April 4 order on Punjab Assembly elections had remained unchanged.

During the proceedings today, 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.

suo motu notice. He stated that the government had not taken constitutional proceedings seriously.

“You remained preoccupied with the debate surrounding the four-three [verdict],” the CJP told the PPP counsel.

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 today, 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.

“Along with economic, political, societal and security, there is also a constitutional crisis [in the country],” he said. “Eight people embraced martyrdom yesterday.

“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 jawan has 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 railway 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.

The leader 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.

furnished its report to the apex court, seeking the implementation of the SC’s order on holding elections in Punjab on May 14 “in letter and spirit”.

The PTI and the federal coalition concluded the make-or-break round of the much-awaited negotiations on polls on May 2. The talks began on the top court’s advice last week.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar submitted the report through the attorney general.

In the reply filed by the government, a copy of which is available with, it quoted the PTI’s committee acknowledging “the gravity of economic challenges being faced by Pakistan and agreed to negotiate on holding general elections to the National and all provincial assemblies on the same date”.

“The coalition partners also showed flexibility to reach a political settlement and considered dissolving the National and two provincial assemblies before the end of their constitutionally mandated terms,” the reply said.

It added that negotiations between both committees consequently led to a “major breakthrough” to end the political impasse, resulting in an understanding on some points including consensus that the general elections should be held on the same date.

The reply also added that the committees further agreed that the caretaker governments should be in place at both the federal and provincial levels for holding general elections “justly, fairly and in accordance with law and to provide level playing field to the leadership of all political parties to actively participate in the electoral process”.

“There is, however, no agreement on date of dissolution of the National and Provincial Assemblies of Sindh and Balochistan, and both committees had agreed on May 2 to resume negotiations after getting clearance from their respective leadership,” according to the minister.

The reply concluded that: “As is evident from the foregoing, significant progress has been made since the dialogue process began. The coalition partners believe that political issues can best be resolved through dialogue and are ready to resume the same in the larger national interest.”

afforded a temporary respite to the country’s main political parties, giving them time till April 26 to develop a consensus on the date for elections to the provincial and national assemblies, so they could be held simultaneously across the country.

However, on April 26, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif reiterated that simultaneous elections will take place in Octo­ber or November after the current National Asse­mbly completed its term on August 13, whereas parliament will have the final say regarding the initiation of talks with the opposition.

The government wanted to talk to the PTI, he had said, adding that there was an overwhelming opinion that the doors of dialogue should not be closed, but its format was yet to be decided. “The decision [regarding talks] has to be taken by parliament, not you or me,” he added.

Subsequently, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani had formed a committee with four members each from both the ruling coalition and the opposition for dialogue.

Dar, former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, PML-N’s Khawaja Saad Rafique, Azam Nazeer Tarar and Sardar Ayaz Sadiq along with PPP’s Syed Naveed Qamar represented the government in the negotiations. Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s Kishwar Zehra and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid’s Tariq Bashir Cheema were also included in the government’s negotiating team.

Meanwhile, the opposition delegation consisted of the party’s Vice Chairman Qureshi, Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry, and Senator Ali Zafar.

More to follow