ISLAMABAD: Only two weeks after issuing schedule for general elections in Punjab in pursuance of the Supreme Court’s order, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Wednesday, appeared to have backed off from holding timely elections in Pakistan’s largest province by revising the poll date from April 30 to October 8—causing over five-month delay in the elections.
“AND WHEREAS, under the circumstances conveyed by the Law Enforcement Agencies, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Interior and Chief Secretary Punjab, the Commission convened meetings on 20th, 21st and 22nd of March, 2023 in ECP Secretariat to deliberate extensively on the matter of General Elections in Punjab.
The Commission after considering the reports, briefing and material brought before it, has arrived at the just conclusion that it is not possible to hold and organize the elections honestly, justly, fairly, in a peaceful manner and in accordance with the Constitution and law,” said an order issued by the ECP.
“NOW, THEREFORE, in exercise of powers conferred upon it under Article 218(3) read with Section 58 and Section 8 (c) of the Elections Act, 2017 and all other powers enabling it in that behalf, and deriving wisdom from the Workers Party through its General Secretary Akhtar Hussain Advocate versus Federation of Pakistan and others reported as PLD 2012 SC 681, the Commission hereby withdraws the election program issued vide Notification No. F. 2(3)/2023/Cord dated 8th March, 2023 and fresh schedule will be issued in due course of time with poll date on 08th October, 2023,” the order said.
“The office is directed to take follow up action accordingly and also to inform the Hon’ble President of Pakistan,” it added. On March 8, the ECP issued Punjab Assembly’s general elections schedule that stands withdrawn now.
Last month, President Arif Alvi announced April 30 as the date for general elections in Punjab— keeping in view that the ECP proposed the Punjab general polls date between April 30-May 7— in a letter written by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja to President Alvi.
The Supreme Court, in its suo motu notice over the matter, ruled that the president fix the date for Punjab general polls and governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa fix the general polls for KP — both in consultation with the ECP.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023