Imran Khan tells supporters to prepare for polls; Pakistan military refutes Imran’s claims of ‘foreign conspiracy’; SC adjourns hearing on dissolution of National Assembly; Imran paying price for being ‘disobedient’ to US: Russia.

Pakistan’s Election Commission on Tuesday said that it was prepared to hold general elections within three months, rejecting reports that claimed that holding the electoral exercise was not possible in 90 days, local media reported. The Election Commission on Tuesday said it will fulfil its responsibility to hold general elections in the country, if required. “Election Commission will fulfil its responsibility under the Constitution and the law. The meeting will review the preparation in the event of general elections,” the spokesperson of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), said, even as the Supreme Court is hearing a case against the rejection of the no-trust vote against Prime Minister Imran Khan. “There is no truth in the reports that the next general elections cannot be held in three months,” the Express Tribune newspaper quoted the ECP spokesperson as saying.

Earlier in a tweet, the commission stated: “It is necessary to clarify that the Election Commission of Pakistan has not issued any statement regarding the election.” The ECP’s clarification came following media reports stating that the commission would not be able to conduct general elections in three months due to some procedural and legal challenges. The Dawn newspaper, quoting a senior official of the ECP, said that due to fresh delimitation of constituencies, particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where the number of seats was increased under the 26th Amendment, and bringing district-and constituency-wise electoral rolls in conformity were the major challenges, the preparations for the general elections would require some six months.

“Delimitation is a time-consuming exercise where the law provides for one month’s time just to invite objections,” the report said quoting the official. The official said procurement of election material, arrangement for ballot papers and appointment and training of polling staff were among the other inherent challenges.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Supreme Court on Tuesday adjourned the hearing on dissolution of National Assembly till Wednesday, even as Pakistan’s powerful Army contradicted Imran Khan’s remarks accusing America of hatching a conspiracy to topple his government, saying there was no evidence of interference in the country’s internal matters, according to a media report. The Supreme Court asked for the record of the proceedings of the National Assembly during the no-confidence motion while adjourning the matter till Wednesday. The opposition parties have filed a petition in the apex court claiming that the decision of National Assembly’s deputy speaker Qasim Suri on the no-confidence motion was illegitimate.

Chief justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial said the court wants to ascertain the constitutionality and legality of the decision taken by deputy speaker Qasim Suri who rejected the no-confidence motion, saying that it was linked to a foreign conspiracy and was not maintainable. During the hearing in the apex court, Chief Justice Bandial said, “Or sole focus is on the ruling of the deputy speaker. We will take up that particular issue only.” A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial which also includes justices Munib Akhtar, Jamal Khan Mandokhail, Ijazul Ahsan and Mohammad Ali Mazhar is hearing the matter.

The Supreme Court further said that it wanted to see if the ruling given by the deputy speaker of the National Assembly could be reviewed by the court and will only decide the legitimacy of the action. The opposition, Pakistan Democratic Movement, requested the apex court to decide on the matter at the earliest. The bench assured the opposition parties that it would come up with the verdict as soon as possible after hearing arguments from both sides. Legal experts and analysts in Pakistan argue that if Imran Khan gets a favourable verdict, the general elections will be held within 90 days period, while in case of any contrary decision against the ruling party, the National Assembly would be reconvened and voting will take place on the no-confidence motion.

Imran Khan told party supporters on Tuesday to prepare for elections. He said, “Workers, prepare for elections! This time I will bring forward sincere and sacrificial workers instead of self-interested people.” Addressing party workers at the Governor’s House, Khan targeted his political opponents, accusing them of conspiring against his government at the best of their foreign masters. Meanwhile, Russia has criticised the United States for making “another attempt of shameless interference” into the internal affairs of Pakistan and asserted that Imran Khan was paying the price for being “disobedient” to Washington and being punished for visiting Russia in February this year. Khan met Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin on 24 February, the day the Russian leader had ordered a “special military operation” against Ukraine. Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said despite pressure from the US to cancel his visit to Moscow, Khan went ahead with his trip. (WITH AGENCY INPUTS)