Following reports of senior diplomats expressing reservations regarding the delay in polls in Pakistan, while mentioning that it could have negative effects on Pakistan’s relationships with democratic nations, the Foreign Office said it has not yet received any such communication from any capital, sources told The News.

If a country raises any doubts and concerns, the authorities can address them, the Foreign Office said.

If elections are delayed beyond February next year, then that might invoke serious consequences for the country. “Frankly, if elections are delayed beyond February, it will be extremely difficult for us to maintain the same level of bilateral engagement with Pakistan as we are doing now,” a source told Express Tribune.

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It is believed that in case of delay in elections, western countries, might revisit their cooperation with Pakistan. This could negatively impact Pakistan’s engagement with US-led financial institutions, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Not only Western countries want timely elections but they also want a level playing field for all the political parties. “This is something we will be keeping a close eye on,” said another diplomatic source, referring to media restrictions and crackdown against certain political parties.

Meanwhile, FO Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch clarified that she has no knowledge of any messages from any capital on this matter, as the positions of Pakistan and other countries on the issue are already known.

The sources revealed that the government is well aware of the European Union’s (EU) stance and the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) perspective on the matter. If parliamentary elections are deferred without valid reasons, the Generalised System of Preferences Plus (GSP+) trade facility could come under scrutiny.

It has been reported that United States Ambassador to Pakistan, Donald Blome, and some other senior Western diplomats had held meetings with high-ranking officials in Pakistan, including caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar and Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja.

These meetings were aimed at gaining first-hand assessments of the situation. It is understood that these countries have closely followed the developments in Pakistan regarding election preparations and maintained communication with relevant parties to emphasise the preservation of a democratic environment.

The sources noted that Pakistan has adequately briefed important capitals on the post-dissolution developments in national and provincial legislatures. The government has assured these capitals that the action will strictly adhere to the Constitution and law. The restriction to hold elections within 90 days following assembly dissolution, as stipulated in the Constitution, has been communicated.

The sources highlighted that the ECP had recently clarified that there are no intentions to delay elections once the delimitation process concludes. Speculation arose that updating electoral rolls based on new delimitations could lead to further delays.

The electoral body dismissed the concerns, explaining that updating electoral rolls and delimitation can proceed concurrently, as this is not an uncommon practice and would not cause any delay in elections. The ECP has already set December 14 as the deadline for completing the constituency delimitation process, and the enrollment of new voters will also be completed by this deadline.