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ISLAMABAD: Newly appointed caretaker Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Arshad Hussain Shah has said that the provincial caretaker government would ensure free and fair general elections in the province.

He said this in his maiden official visit to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday.

The new caretaker CM met Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja over issues related to the upcoming general elections in the province.

Earlier on Sunday, Shah was sworn in as the caretaker CM of KP following the death of his predecessor Azam Khan a day earlier. Shah was serving as caretaker Law Minister in KP before his elevation as the caretaker CM.

The KP and Punjab assemblies were dissolved in January this year. The National, Sindh and Balochistan Assemblies were dissolved in August this year.

In September, the ECP announced to hold general elections in the country in the last week of January next year, without giving any date for the polls and issuing the related electoral schedule.

However, following Supreme Court’s intervention, the CEC visited the presidency to meet President Arif Alvi earlier this month to fix a date for the general elections. It was decided in the meeting that the general elections would be held across the country on February 8 next year.

The conduct of general elections in the coming February implies that the polls in Punjab and KP would be held more than a year after the dissolution of the two provincial assemblies.

Previously, the president invited the CEC for a meeting to fix the general polls date but the latter refused to meet him.

Article 224(2) provides that when the NA or a provincial assembly is dissolved, a general election to the assembly shall be held within a period of 90 days after the dissolution, and the results of the election shall be declared not later than 14 days after the conclusion of the polls.

Keeping in view the NA dissolution date, the constitutional cut-off date for holding the general elections was November 7 but the ECP failed to hold the polls within the constitutionally-mandated 90-day period.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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