The PPP core committee, meeting in Karachi on Wednesday, jointly chaired by President Asif Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, resolved to hold the next general election on time and to thwart any attempt to sabotage its schedule. The meeting noted that if election could be held in Iraq and Afghanistan, there was no reason why they could not be held in Pakistan on the time stipulated in the constitution. The feeling may be laudable, but the core committee should be well aware that the party’s role in the holding of the next election will be limited to the appointment of a caretaker Prime Minister, and that too in consultation with the Opposition. Under those caretakers, the actual conduct of the election will be the responsibility of the Chief Election Commissioner, whose appointment has been made. Indeed, all members of the core committee except the President and members of the Senate will cease to hold the government and legislative offices they presently hold. The meeting was held to consider how to deal with the long march on Islamabad on January 14 led by Tehrik Minhajul Quran chief Dr Tahirul Qadri. The march is feared to provide an excuse for the postponement of the coming election, on the plea of election reforms. The core committee declared that though it was the democratic right of every party to hold a protest and a long march, no adventurism to sabotage the next election would be allowed. The PPP cannot really take a strong line because, as was discussed in the meeting, the MQM is participating in the march, even though it is against the government of which it is part.

The core committee’s regard for the constitution seemed to contradict its previous stubbornness in the President’s corruption cases. However, its regard for the constitutional stipulation for elections is welcome, for it shows that political parties do not want a postponement, and as the other parties have also confirmed this, no adventure should be possible by any force that wants a postponement of elections. However, Dr Qadri insists that while he does not want a caretaker government lasting for more than 90 days, the reforms are necessary, as he told MQM leader Haider Abbas Rizvi in a meeting on Wednesday in Lahore

The polls are important, for the problems the country faces are grave. Reforms are important, for all patriots want the elections to yield a government which can tackle those problems in accordance with the will of the people. At the same time, there must be no throwing out of the baby with the bathwater, which would be the case if election is postponed in the name of reforms.