- Says power to appoint date for general elections rests exclusively with ECP
Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja turned down on Thursday President Dr Arif Alvi’s invitation regarding setting a date for elections. He said the power to appoint a date for general elections rests exclusively with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
On Wednesday, the president had written to the CEC, seeking a meeting to “fix an appropriate date” for general elections.
In his reply, the CEC said that Section 57 of the Elections Act had been amended due to an act of Parliament, which had empowered the ECP to announce dates for general elections.
“Where the president dissolves the National Assembly, in his discretion, as provided in Article 58(2) read with Article 48(5) of the Constitution then he has to appoint a date for the general elections,” read the reply.
“However, if the assembly is dissolved on the advice of the prime minister or by afflux of time as provided in Article 58(1) of the Constitution, then the commission understands and believes that power to appoint a date or dates for elections rests exclusively with the Commission.”
Raja further said the ECP believes reliance placed on the provisions of the Constitution mentioned in the President’s invitation letter are not applicable in this context.
He added that the ECP is taking its responsibility of holding general elections in the country very seriously, and is of the view that participation in a meeting with the President would be of “scant consequence”.
President invites CEC
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).
The development was shared on microblogging platform X (formerly Twitter) by the official account of the President of Pakistan.
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.”
ECP invites political parties for consultation
Meanwhile, ECP has invited major political parties in the country to hold consultation on general elections, it was reported on Wednesday.
Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) Secretary Information Marriyum Aurangzeb confirmed that the party has received invitation from ECP. The development was shared on the official account of PMLN on X.
As per media reports, ECP has written invitation letters to at least four political parties – PTI, PML-N, PPP, and JUI-F, to hold discussion on the elections.