Islamabad: Pakistan’s top judge insisted Thursday that historic elections should be held on time, warning the government and the military against delaying the polls scheduled to take place by mid-May.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry made the remarks after a senior official wrote to the president accusing the Supreme Court of putting “extreme pressure” on officers investigating graft allegations against top politicians.
“The executive, both civilian and military, will not take any actions and steps that are tantamount to delaying the election in the name of judiciary and judges on the basis of this letter,” Chaudhry told the court.
He summoned Faisal Bokhari, the chairman of the National Accountability Bureau anti-corruption watchdog, to appear on February 4 to answer accusations of contempt for the contents of his letter to President Asif Ali Zardari.
Mainstream commentators, members of the government and opposition politicians are publicly united that elections must be held on time by mid-May.
It will mark the first democratic transition of power between two civilian governments in the history of Pakistan, where the military have staged three coups.
But earlier this week, a leading senator from the main ruling Pakistan People’s Party claimed a conspiracy was being hatched “by certain elements” to delay the election by two or three years.
Raza Rabbani also reportedly said efforts were being made to create conditions similar to those in 1977, when General Zia ul-Haq seized power after elections were clouded by violence and allegations of vote-rigging.
Pakistan’s judiciary has been at loggerheads for years with the civilian government over a series of corruption and contempt cases, which brought down then-prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in June 2012.
The Supreme Court on January 15 ordered the arrest of his successor, Raja Pervez Ashraf. The move sparked rumours of a “soft coup” since it coincided with a protest by tens of thousands camped outside parliament and calling for reform.