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Monday March 04, 2024

Why is Punjab governor not giving election date?

January 29, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Constitutional ambiguity is an apparent reason for Punjab Governor Baligh Ur Rehman’s hesitance to announce the date for the provincial assembly elections in the province.

Informed sources said the Punjab governor is presently reviewing the legal and constitutional position and is expected to announce his decision on the matter by early next week.

These sources said that in case he is satisfied that he has the authority to announce the date of election for the provincial assembly, he will do so. Otherwise, he will refer the matter to the Election Commission of Pakistan.

Referring to the constitutional ambiguity, these sources explained that in case the governor signs the chief minister’s advice for the dissolution of assembly, then the Constitution declares that the governor will give the election date. However, in case the governor does not sign the advice and let the assembly dissolved after 48 hours, then in this case the Constitution does not say that the governor will announce the date of elections.

These sources refer to Article 105(3), which reads as: “Where the Governor dissolves the Provincial Assembly, notwithstanding anything contained in clause (1), he shall, (a) appoint a date, not later than ninety days from the date of dissolution, for the holding of a general election to the Assembly; and (b) appoint a care-taker Cabinet.”

It is argued that in the case of Punjab Assembly, the incumbent governor did not dissolve the assembly on the advice of the-then chief minister Pervaiz Elahi. The Punjab Assembly, however, stood dissolved after 48 hours as declared in the Constitution.

Exactly after 48 hours, the Punjab chief secretary issued a notification for the dissolution of Punjab Assembly. On the basis of this notification, the Punjab governor initiated the consultation process between the-then chief minister and leader of the opposition.

A few days back, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) formally approached the governors of Punjab and KP for election dates in their respective provinces. The commission has also proposed election dates to both the governors. The Punjab governor has not yet given any date for the Punjab Assembly elections for the reason of constitutional ambiguity as is discussed above.

The sources said that on Monday, the Punjab governor is expected to take a decision on the matter and if he concludes that he has the authority to announce the election date, then he will do it. Otherwise, he would refer the case back to the Election Commission.

In the case of KP, Governor Ghulam Ali recently hinted at delay in the elections there and linked fresh polls with an improvement in economic situation and law and order there. He suggested that the political forces should focus on finding solutions to fix the financial and security situation and not the elections.

The KP governor also said that 400 tribal elders had requested that elections should not be held after three or four months. These elders had demanded a fresh census before the elections.