The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Shehbaz Sharif, chaired a cabinet meeting on April 9 to discuss the ongoing political and constitutional crisis. Topics on the agenda included discussions on funds for the upcoming elections in Punjab and the federal government’s decision on the provision of funds to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). Officials were asked to sit out of the cabinet meeting, which was held via video link, and the premier and most ministers joined online. The meeting was conducted to devise a strategy to address matters surrounding the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill 2023, which President Dr Arif Alvi returned with a request for reconsideration to meet the scrutiny about its validity. Consultation on matters related to the joint session of parliament also came under discussion in the meeting.
During the meeting, the federal cabinet approved the decisions taken during the National Security Council (NSC) meeting that took place on April 8. The NSC had agreed to launch a comprehensive operation against militant outfits to root out terrorism from the country. The operation will be comprehensive and all-encompassing, including efforts at the political, diplomatic, security, economic, and social levels. A high-level committee has also been formed in this regard and will make recommendations regarding the implementation and limitations within two weeks.
The cabinet also decided to take up in parliament the matter of providing funds to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for holding Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa elections. The Supreme Court had previously directed the federal government to provide Rs21 billion in funds by April 10 to the ECP. The verdict also stated that the Supreme Court will issue instructions to the authorities concerned in case the funds are not provided. Despite the court’s order, the federal cabinet opted for debating the matter in Parliament before approving and issuing funds for the provincial elections.
The cabinet meeting on April 9 was held to deal with the “current political and constitutional crises” in the country. Besides discussions on funding elections, the meeting also discussed President Dr Arif Alvi’s decision to return the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill 2023, Justice Athar Minallah’s dissenting note, and Supreme Court’s verdict on polls, while deliberation on the country’s political and economic issues would also come under discussion. However, officials were asked to sit out of the meeting, and the premier and most ministers joined online.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif castigated President Alvi for his move to return the bill unsigned, calling it “most unfortunate.” He accused the president of belittling his office and acting as a worker of the PTI, one who is beholden to Imran Niazi more than the Constitution and demands of his office. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had strongly condemned the move to pass the legislation and said it is an “attack on the judiciary.”