Thursday February 22, 2024

'Immediately' announce Punjab, KP election dates, Alvi tells ECP

Constitution doesn’t allow any delay, says President Arif Alvi in letter to chief election commissioner

February 08, 2023
President Arif Alvi. — PID/ file
President Arif Alvi. — PID/ file

ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi asked on Wednesday the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to "immediately" announce the date of elections for Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in a letter to Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja.

In the letter, a copy of which is available with The News, he asked the CEC to make the announcement for the date of elections for provincial assemblies as per Elections Act, 2017 to "put an end to dangerous speculative propaganda for the upcoming provincial elections in Punjab and KP as well as the future general elections".

Both assemblies had been dissolved in January.

The President referred to the dissolution of the provincial assemblies of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and said that the election of an Assembly is to be held within 90 days of the dissolution as provided by the Article 224(2) of the Constitution.

He added that ECP’s primary job was to conduct and hold elections.

“Thus, it is ultimately the Commission, which if it fails to discharge its functions and duties, is to be held responsible and answerable for the violation of our Constitution,” the president warned the ECP.

Referring to his oath of preserving and defending the Constitution, President Alvi reminded the CEC and the ECP members about their fundamental duty as per their oath under Article 214 and Third Schedule of the Constitution.

Dr Alvi reminded the ECP chief and members that they should announce the election date to avoid serious consequences of breach and violation of the Constitution and law.

The president also highlighted that the “oldest democracies had never delayed elections even during wars”. He highlighted the example of former United States presidents James Madison and Abraham Lincoln who went ahead with elections despite their country being at war.

“I am of the firm view that there are no such circumstances as may furnish any justification for delaying or postponing of elections, in fact if such postponements of constitutionally mandated elections are evaluated throughout the world in recent history, they have morphed into serious long term set-backs to democracy,” said Dr Alvi.

President Alvi lauded the ECP for announcing by-polls for the vacant National Assembly seats and asked the body to immediately issue a election schedule to put an end to "dangerous speculative propaganda" for the upcoming and future general elections.

Interim setups in both Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have settled in after the former prime minister Imran Khan — in a gambit to force the government to hold snap polls — hit the two provincial assemblies like a wrecking ball— but uncertainty over it and when a vote will be held is far from over.

Discussions largely concentrating on the possibility of a deferment of polls have already begun churning out fodder for debates regarding the future of Pakistan’s politics.

According to the Constitution of Pakistan, if an assembly is dissolved, polls need to be held for the said assembly in 90 days.

However, the governors of both provinces — Baligh Ur Rehman in Punjab and Haji Ghulam Ali in KP — are yet to approve a date for the elections, drawing severe criticism from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.