Lahore: Pakistan's 2013 general election is not likely to be held on time and may be delayed for months or even years, a police unit in Punjab province has said, amid speculation that a caretaker setup will be installed for "a couple of years." The Special Branch of Punjab Police spoke of the likely delay in polls in a report prepared by it, which was recently submitted to Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.
Pakistan is scheduled to hold polls to the national and provincial assemblies early next year. The police report gives credence to speculation across the country that the general election will not be held on time and a caretaker setup will be installed for "a couple of years."
Reacting to the report, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, the younger brother of former premier Nawaz Sharif, said there would be a "civil war if elections are delayed".
Sharif's party, the PML-N, is apprehensive of an unfavourable atmosphere being created by certain judgements of the superior judiciary. Insiders said the party fears that the Supreme Court's verdicts on the rigging of the 1990 general election, the failure of the government in the restive Balochistan province and the law and order situation in Karachi may go against the democratic set-up.
Religious leader Tahirul Qadri, the chief of the Tehrik-e-Mihajul Quran, has called on his followers to "save the state, not politics," adding to the concerns of the PML-N, which fears that some elements may be conspiring against its efforts to come to power at the Centre in the next election.
"These forces, which do not want progress in the country, are trying to flee from the polls, but they should know that a civil war can break out in the country if the general election is delayed. These forces will be responsible for any untoward situation," Chief Minister Sharif warned.
"The election is vital to the existence and development of the country and any delay in the election will be disastrous for the country," he said. PML-N President Nawaz Sharif said the 2013 election should not be put off or subverted because people wanted to bring about a change through their votes.
"There is talk of postponement or subversion of the polls, and of conspiracies being hatched against them. But the election will be held as people were anxious to bring about a change through the ballot," he said.