‘Are you saying I have cancer and it’s my last press conference?’

In a recent press conference, interim Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar strongly defended the delay in announcing election results, citing security concerns as the primary reason.

He was asked during the press conference by a journalist, “Probably this is your last press conference, on a lighter note: who told you how long you’ll be Caretaker Prime Minister?”

To this PM Kakar said, “I am disappointed after giving you a chance. Do I have cancer? As this is my last press conference according to you.”

While discussing the disruption in mobile services, Kakar emphasized, it was a necessary measure to ensure the safety of voters and prevent terrorist attacks.

“We could afford delay, but terrorist attacks, we could not […] delay does not mean rigging,” Kakar, whose government was appointed to oversee the country through elections until an elected set-up takes charge, said during a post-election press conference.

Kakar’s remarks came amidst mounting criticism from various political parties, including Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), who protested the delay in election results, labeling it as potential rigging.

More than three days have passed since polling day and the complete election results are still pending, with one seat yet to be decided.

The prime minister informed journalists that in 2018, the entire result-gathering process took 66 hours; however, in 2024, it was completed in 36 hours. The official Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) deadline is around nine hours.

The premier compared Pakistan’s election process to that of other countries, citing instances of delayed results in Sweden and Indonesia, suggesting that such delays are not uncommon in large-scale elections.

In response to criticism from foreign governments, Kakar asserted that Pakistan would conduct its investigation if necessary, rather than succumbing to external pressures.

“These friendly countries, unfortunately, frame their initial assessment on the fabricated and fractured information available on social media and the digital space,” he said.

“A responsible government should take time and then have a position; that would have been better. If we have to investigate, we will not do it on the demand of the United States, United Kingdom, or the EU,” he further added.

Kakar noted that Pakistan has its law and will deal with it accordingly. “We did not ask a judicial inquiry on Capitol Hill riots. It is not for us to demand it and it is not for them. For me, the demand of a PTI individual than the US, UK, and EU combined.”

Acknowledging the possibility of irregularities, Kakar assured that appropriate forums were available for addressing complaints.

To a question, PM Kakar said that the upcoming elected parliament would decide about the use of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in the elections. “There should be an open discussion on EVMS.”

Two days back, expressing his annoyance over the delayed election results, President Dr Arif Alvi had said that the country would have been spared the ongoing crisis if the EVMs had been used during the February 8 general elections.

It is pertinent to mention here that the ECP’s new Election Management System (EMS) fell flat despite the commission’s tall claims.
Taking to his X handle, the president had said: “Had EVMs been there today, my dear beloved Pakistan would have been spared this crisis.”

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