Thursday July 18, 2024

Election date: Law minister meets president for third time in two weeks

All law ministers unanimously urge "all state organs" to respect ECP's autonomy and authority regarding polls date

By Abdul Qayyum Siddiqui
September 13, 2023
Caretaker Federal Minister for Law and Justice Ahmed Irfan Aslam called on President Dr Arif Alvi at the Aiwan-e-Sadr in Islamabad on September 11, 2023. — APP
Caretaker Federal Minister for Law and Justice Ahmed Irfan Aslam called on President Dr Arif Alvi at the Aiwan-e-Sadr in Islamabad on September 11, 2023. — APP

ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi Wednesday met the caretaker Law and Justice Minister Ahmad Irfan Aslam to discuss the matter pertaining to the election date, sources told Geo News.

This is the third meeting between the two officials within 15 days and comes after the interim minister chaired a meeting with all the caretaker provincial law ministers.

According to the sources, President Alvi was apprised by the law minister about the position of all the interim provincial ministers about the date of general polls — a matter that remains ambiguous following the dissolution of the National Assembly in August this year with no clarity in sight regarding delimitation of constituencies following the digital census held this year.

Earlier today, the federal and provincial law ministers had unanimously urged all organs of the state to respect the autonomy and authority of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in carrying out the delimitation of constituencies and determining the election schedule.

This statement by the law ministers was conveyed via a press release today following a meeting chaired by caretaker minister Aslam in Islamabad.

The meeting — attended by provincial law ministers Kanwar Dilshad (Punjab), Muhammad Omer Soomro (Sindh), Arshad Hussain Shah (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and Amanullah Kanrani (Balochistan) — was held to discuss matters pertaining to the upcoming general elections to the National and provincial assemblies.

It concluded after the huddle determined that the conduct of general elections and announcement of election dates is the sole competence of the country's electoral authority, as per the Constitution.

"The Election Commission of Pakistan is an independent constitutional body," the statement, issued by the ministry, read.

The statement by the law ministry comes a day after caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, too, issued a similar statement in the wake of speculations regarding the announcement of the election date by President Alvi.

The president, during his second meeting with the interim federal law minister in 10 days on Monday, discussed the matter of the election schedule. He was reportedly expected to announce the date of the election.

However, sources within the Presidential Palace claimed that the idea of Dr Alvi's likelihood of appointing a date is "wrong" as the deliberation on the matter of polls is still underway.

Meanwhile, during the meeting held at the law ministry today, all law ministers also underscored the importance of upholding the principles of democracy and ensuring the smooth conduct of elections.

It was unanimously agreed that the Constitution must be read as a whole and none of its provisions must be read in isolation of other relevant provisions.

The provincial law ministers also emphasised that in order to strengthen the federation, ensure harmony amongst all federating units, and avoid unnecessary financial burden on the national exchequer incurred owing to the provision of security arrangements on different election dates, the general elections to the national and the four provincial assemblies must be held on the same day.

"The discussion highlighted the government’s commitment to ensuring free, fair and transparent elections in Pakistan, adhering to the principles of democratic governance," the statement mentioned.

The federal and provincial governments remain dedicated to promoting a democratic and inclusive electoral environment, it added.