Against the backdrop of demands by fiery cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri for dissolving Parliament and forming a caretaker government, Pakistan's Supreme Court and Election Commission on Tuesday said there should be no delay in holding the next general election scheduled for this year.
At the hearing of a case on electoral reforms by a three-judge bench of the apex court, Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry said the next general election -- expected by May -- should be held on time.
During the proceedings, Chaudhry remarked that the actions of any individual were not important and the polls would have to be held on time at any cost.
No compromise would be made regarding the schedule for the polls and the Election Commission should be prepared to conduct them, he said.
Chaudhry said the Election Commission should be prepared to follow any guidelines framed by the government for holding polls. "Holding of elections is the responsibility of the Election Commission and it has to fulfil this obligation."
In a related development, Chief Election Commissioner Fakharuddin Ibrahim chaired an emergency meeting of the Election Commission in Islamabad.
State-run Radio Pakistan quoted Ibrahim as saying the polls would be "held on time and no delay will be tolerated."
Qadri, the chief of Tehrik Minhaj-ul-Quran, marched into Islamabad with tens of thousands of his supporters early Tuesday morning and demanded that the government step down and dissolve the national and provincial assemblies.
He claimed that he would lead a "people's democratic revolution" to push his demand for sweeping electoral reforms.
Pakistan government is to complete its five-year term in mid-March and the elections are expected to be held by May.
Political parties have accused Qadri of acting as a front for the military and security establishment to delay the polls and prolong the term of a caretaker government.