ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has temporarily put off consultations with President Arif Alvi regarding the date of elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, saying that the matter was already under judicial consideration.
President Alvi on Friday summoned Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja for an urgent meeting on February 20 (Monday) regarding the announcement of the date for fresh general elections.
In his letter to the ECP, the president expressed his displeasure with the electoral body's apparent “indifference” and inaction to the matter.
However, after finding fault with the president's "choice of words" in the letter, ECP has now said that it may not be able to enter into a process of consultation with the office of the president due to the "matter being subjudice at various judicial fora" and several other reasons.
A letter issued by the ECP secretary to the president's secretary stated that the electoral body was well aware of its constitutional and legal obligations.
"It is pertinent to mention that Article 105 read with Article 112 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973, provides the procedure for appointment of poll date in case of dissolution of the provincial assemblies," it stated.
The ECP secretary informed the office of the president that the Commission — following the dissolution of Punjab and KP Assemblies — had approached the governors of both provinces for deciding a date for holding the polls. He said that the Punjab and KP governors had responded to the ECP's letters in the said regard but hadn't given a date.
In reference to Lahore High Court's (LHC) directive for the Punjab election date, the letter stated that the ECP held a consultative meeting with Punjab Governor Muhammad Baligh Ur Rehman in line with the orders but the latter expressed intention to avail the legal remedy against the judgement as "it was not binding on him".
The ECP secretary informed the office of the president that the Commission had sought further guidance from the high court via a miscellaneous plea, and challenged its order via a separate intra court appeal "on the ground that the process of consultation with the Governor is not provided in the Constitution".
Moreover, three writ petitions had also been filed in the Peshawar High Court (PHC), seeking directions for appointing a date for holding general elections in KP, he added.
"It is clarified that the Constitution does not empower the Election Commission to appoint a poll date in case of dissolution of a provincial Assembly by the Governor or due to afflux of time as provided in Article 112(1) of the Constitution", the letter read.
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