The President’s advice to the CEC comes against the backdrop of divided opinions among stakeholders on the time frame for elections….reports Asian Lite News
In a major development, Pakistan President Arif Alvi on Wednesday, in a letter to a letter to Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja, proposed November 6 as the date of national elections, Dawn reported.
In the letter, President Alvi said he had dissolved the National Assembly on the Prime Minister’s advice on August 9.
The President’s advice to the CEC comes against the backdrop of divided opinions among stakeholders on the time frame for elections.
Notably, the President’s advice to the CEC comes against the backdrop of divided opinions among stakeholders on the time frame for elections.
He also cited Article 48(5) of the Constitution, which he said “empowers and mandates” the president ‘to appoint a date not later than 90 days from the date of the dissolution, for the holding of a general election to the Assembly’.
Hence, “in terms of Article 48(5), the general election to the National Assembly should be held by the 89th day of the date of dissolution of the National Assembly, i.e. Monday, 6th day of November 2023”, the letter stated.
The president recalled in the letter that “in an endeavour to fulfil the constitutional obligations”, the chief election commissioner was invited for a meeting to devise the modalities of implementing the constitutional intent and mandate, Dawn reported.
“But in his reply, the CEC “took a contrary view that as per the scheme of the Constitution and framework of electoral laws, it was the domain of the election commission, and following the publication of last preceding census on August 7, duly notified delimitation of constituencies was in progress, a mandatory requirement stipulated by Article 51(5) of the Constitution and section 17 of the Elections Act, 2017”, Dawn quoted the letter.
Moreover, the law ministry also had the same view on the matter, it said, adding that all four provincial governments were of the opinion that the announcement of the election date was the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) mandate.
“Further, there is a consensus that to strengthen the federation and to promote unity and harmony amongst provinces and to avoid incurring unnecessary expenses, general elections to the National Assembly and the provincial assemblies must be held on the same day,” it further stated.
He further acknowledged that it was the ECP’s responsibility to abide by all the constitutional and legal steps stipulated under ‘Articles 51, 218, 219, 220 and the Elections Act, 2017’ for organising and conducting free and fair elections.
President Alvi advised that the ECP, in “consultation with provincial governments and political parties under the relevant provisions of the Constitution and in view that some of these matters are already subjudice, may seek guidance from the superior judiciary for announcement of a single date for general election to the national and provincial assemblies”, Dawn reported.
According to Article 244 of the Constitution, elections are supposed to be held by November 9, within 90 days of the premature dissolution of the National Assembly (NA) on August 9.
However, the ECP says the elections will be pushed beyond the constitutionally mandated cut-off date following the notification of new 2023 digital census results. The ECP bases its decision on Section 17(2) of the Elections Act, which states: “The commission shall delimit constituencies after every census is officially published”, Dawn reported.
Meanwhile, voices have been growing louder recently from many quarters, including the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), Supreme Court Bar Association and Pakistan Bar Council, for either the president or the ECP to announce the election date and the polls to be held within the constitutionally mandated 90-day period.
Earlier in August, Pakistan’s National Assembly and all four provincial assemblies in the country were dissolved.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on August 17 announced the schedule of new delimitations to be carried out as per the new census approved by the Council of Common Interests (CCI) earlier this month.
The ECP schedule stated that the fresh delimitation would take nearly four months, which clearly showed that the general elections cannot be held within three months of the dissolution of the provincial and national assemblies, according to Geo News. (ANI)