Saturday June 15, 2024

Election date: ECP expresses 'grave concerns' in response to President Alvi's letter

ECP decides to attend meeting called by President Arif Alvi to decide election date, sources say

By Zarmeen Zehra
February 18, 2023
A representational image of a security guard walking outside ECP. — AFP/File
A representational image of a security guard walking outside ECP. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has decided to attend the meeting called by President Arif Alvi to decide the election date, sources said on Saturday.

However, the electoral body expressed grave concerns over the "words" used by the president in his letter to summon Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja.

On Friday, President Alvi summoned the election commissioner for an urgent meeting on February 20 regarding the announcement of the date for fresh general elections.

Sources said that the ECP members and high-ups will attend the meeting called at the Aiwan-e-Sadr at 11am.

Meanwhile, the ECP's response to Alvi's letter contains serious concerns regarding the content of the letter.

An official statement issued by the President’s Office stated that Section 57(1) of the Elections Act, 2017, provided that the president shall "announce the date or dates of the general elections after consultation with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP)."

The commission asserted that it was an "independent and autonomous" body, and respected and strictly acted upon the Constitution and law.

It said that using "insensitive" words regarding the ECP wasn't appropriate and it was disappointing to see such words coming from the president.

The response further stated that the ECP was fulfilling its duties in a good manner.

President's letter

In the letter, the president said, some substantial developments have taken place — including the judgement of the Lahore High Court (LHC) to ensure that polls in Punjab are held within 90 days and recent observations of the Supreme Court (SC) instructing that the LHC’s orders be implemented.

The statement further added that the president had "waited anxiously" for the commission to realise its constitutional duties to proceed and act accordingly, but he was extremely dismayed by ECP’s poignant approach to this crucial matter.

In his letter, the president once again reminded the ECP that he was "conscious of his constitutional responsibility of preserving, protecting and defending the Constitution," and was, thus, inviting CEC for an urgent meeting on February 20, 2023, in his office to consult on the date or dates of the general elections.

It must be noted that on February 8, President Alvi had written to the ECP, urging him to ensure that both provincial and national general elections are held within the constitutionally mandated time.

“Recent history of the world shows that delays endanger democracy in the long run,” the Presidential Office had said at the time.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Punjab and KP assemblies were dissolved by the Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on January 14 and January 18, respectively.