ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi has invited Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja for a meeting today or tomorrow (Wednesday or Thursday) to “fix an appropriate date” for general elections.
Alvi wrote a letter to the CEC on Wednesday, citing the constitutional requirement for the president to decide a date for general elections within 90 days of the dissolution of the National Assembly (NA).
According to the letter written by the president to the CEC, the president noted that the National Assembly was dissolved on the advice of the then prime minister Shehbaz Sharif on August 9-08-2023 (three days ahead of its mandated period).
The letter read: “And Whereas by virtue of Article 48(5) of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the President is obliged to appoint a date not later than 90 days from the date of dissolution for the holding of General Elections of Assembly.”
“Clause 5 of Article 48 for ready reference is as follows: Where the President dissolves the National Assembly, notwithstanding anything contained in clause (1), he shall, -
(a) Appoint a date, not later than ninety days from the date of the dissolution, for the holding of a general election to the Assembly; and
(b) Appoint a caretaker Cabinet in accordance with the provisions of Article 224 or, as the case may be, Article 224A.”
In view of this, he added, the CEC was invited to meet him today or tomorrow to set an “appropriate date” for elections.
A recent amendment to the Elections Act 2017 empowered the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to announce the dates for polls unilaterally without having to consult the President. President Alvi’s invitation to the CEC also comes against the backdrop of the ECP having ruled out the holding of elections this year, following the notification of the latest 2023 digital census.
Since the National Assembly was dissolved three days before the end of its Constitutional term, Article 224 of the Constitution mandates that elections be held within 90 days of the dissolution of the Assembly.
But at the same time, Section 17(2) of the Elections Act states that “the Commission shall delimit constituencies after every census is officially published.”
In line with this requirement, the ECP said last week the process of fresh delimitation of national and provincial assembly constituencies was expected to be completed by December 14 — over a month beyond the constitutionally-mandated deadline for conducting general elections.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023