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Ironically, the political impasse in the country that refused to die down even after the arrival of a caretaker setup has suddenly taken a new nasty and menacing turn to the chagrin of the entire nation. The Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) is said to have refused to meet the President of Pakistan who had invited him to ‘fix an appropriate date for general election”.

According to media reports, the CEC has argued that participating in such a meeting would be of “scant importance” in view of the fact that the situation has changed now, as under recent amendments to election laws, the CEC has been empowered to fix the date for polls without the President’s input. A visibly upset President has now sent the CEC’s response to the law ministry for its opinion.

It is quite likely that the law ministry will not go against the stand taken by the CEC in view of the fact that both the caretaker setup and Election Commission of Pakistan are seemingly working under an arrangement in which both stand to benefit from each other or from a particular outcome. That the apex court of the country will be seized of the CEC-President dispute in coming days now appears to be a strong possibility.

In my view, however, the President is required to take stock of the situation keeping in view the fact that some of the developments that have taken place in recent days have clearly gone against him or his position as the President of Pakistan.

He must not lose sight of the fact that he is not one of the Presidents who used to enjoy power under the Eighth Amendment that had become synonymous with Article 58 2(b). Moreover, he is not even a nominal head of the executive unlike the case of India’s head of state.

No doubt, President Alvi’s approach to his responsibilities is strongly characterized by a touch of belligerence and a hint of humility. But his stay at Presidency during the rule of caretaker setup is not going to add to his stature or reputation owing to some obvious reasons.

He is, therefore, required to recognize his limitations and act accordingly. In my view, he must quit without any further loss of time.

Shehla Javed Ranjha (Lahore)

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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