LAHORE – The general elections may be held on time even after introducing all electoral reforms proposed by Dr Tahirul Qadri, the head of the Tehrik Minhajul Quran, says a former secretary of the Election Commission of Pakistan. Talking to TheNation on Tuesday, Kanwar Muhammad Dilshad said the reforms would not take long to implement as 90 per cent of them could be introduced through a presidential ordinance. As for the remaining 10 per cent, he said they too would not take much time to take a practical shape.According to him, the reforms called for by the TMQ chairman were almost similar to the ones which he as ECP secretary had prepared from the platform of the Electoral Reforms Commission (ERC). He said of the 45 reforms, the government had already implemented four and the remaining were under consideration.The Supreme Court, Kanwar Dilshad said, could order the government to submit the ERC recommendations and take a decision on the need for their implementation. Dr Qadri proposed a number of electoral reforms at a big public meeting at the Minar-i-Pakistan on Sunday and gave the government until January 10 to implement them. Otherwise, he said four million of his supporters would converge on Islamabad on January 14 for necessary decisions to mount pressure on the rulers.Most of the political parties say that on the pretext of reforms, Dr Qadri wants to get the elections delayed, an allegation vehemently denied by the TMQ chief.The former ECP secretary was of the view that holding of elections on time would not be possible in case the apex court ordered fresh census and delimitations, a constitutional requirement which remains unmet since 2008.The government, he said, was under obligation to conduct census and have constituencies redemarcated some five years ago. However, because of mala fide, it did not.In case the Supreme Court decided to meet this constitutional requirement, the elections could be delayed for a couple of years, said Mr Dilshad.Asked if it would be possible for the ECP to hold the elections on time if the law and order situation during the next few months remained as it is today, he said the caretaker government to be set up after the dissolution of assemblies would be authorised to seek army’s help to complete the process.He said the 1993 elections had also been held under the supervision of the army and the same could be done once again in view of the deteriorating law and order in various regions.Elections, he said, were supposed to be held simultaneously across the country and the process could not be delayed in any province on the pretext of a bad situation.He said in 1993 the army had taken over the ECP offices and monitored the polls because of mistrust among Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif and Ghulam Ishaq Khan.Army troops, he recalled, were present at all polling stations.In response to a question, Kanwar Dilshad said it was not possible for anyone to say whether the elections would be held on time.In case the electoral reforms were not introduced and the apex court took suo motu notice of the preparations being made by Dr Qadri’s party, the polls could get delayed.He said delay caused as a result of the Supreme Court’s intervention would be constitutional.The former ECP secretary said in case the elections were delayed, the caretaker government would get time to take measures to restore law and order. And once the situation returned to normal, army’s help to conduct polls would not be required.He apprehended that a 1977-like situation would be created if electoral reforms were not introduced.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 26-Dec-2012 here.