ISLAMABAD: Two days after President Arif Alvi urged it to announce general elections’ dates for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab assemblies, Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) finally took up the matter on Friday but failed to take any decision to this effect.

In a meeting presided over by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, different issues concerning the general elections of the two provincial assemblies were discussed.

However, the meeting proved inconclusive and failed to take any decision, it is learnt.

The commission decided to meet again to take up the relevant issues, an official in the office of the CEC told Business Recorder.

A press release issued after the meeting simply stated that the electoral body met to consider the president’s letter besides considering the Interior Ministry’s letter wherein the ministry conveyed its refusal for the provision of military and paramilitary troops to ECP for security duties in general elections— citing law and order situation.

Other issues discussed in the meeting were the refusal of Finance Division to provide funds for the elections citing shortage of funds— and inputs of the chief secretaries and inspectors general of police (IGPs) of KP and Punjab on general elections in the two provinces.

In a letter to the CEC, earlier on Wednesday, the president highlighted the relevant provisions of the constitution after the dissolution of two provincial assemblies; Punjab and KP, and consequential elections to be held there.

The letter maintained that Article 2-A of the constitution said that “the state shall exercise its power and authority through the chosen representatives of the people.”

The president said, “Such is the unflinching resolve and commitment by the forefathers of the nation who drafted the Objectives Resolution duly made part of the constitution (Article 2-A). Thus, there remains no obscurity about the democratic principles and values that are to be adhered to, observed and followed”.

It emphasised that the dissolution of a provincial assembly can happen either under Article 105 or Article 112.

“In either situation, the election of the Assembly is to be held within 90 days of the dissolution. Such a mandate stands further fortified by Article 224(2) emphasising the holding of an election in 90 days. The conduct of elections is the primary and essential duty of the Election Commission of Pakistan as per PART VIII of the constitution- in particular Article 218 (3) casts a duty on the ECP to ensure the holding of fair and free election,” the president categorically stated in his letter.

According to the president, if the commission failed to discharge its functions and duties, it would be held responsible and answerable for the violation of the constitution.

Alvi stated that as the president, he was “under oath (Article 42 Third Schedule) ‘to preserve, protect and defend the constitution’” and that it was his “constitutional responsibility to remind the CEC and members of the commission about their fundamental duty.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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