President Dr Arif Alvi on Friday invited Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja for an urgent meeting on February 20 regarding consultations on a date for elections on Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab.
The meeting, to be held at Aiwan-i-Sadr, will discuss Section 57(1) of Elections Act, 2017 which details that the president is entrusted to announce the election date after consulting the Election Commission Pakistan (ECP).
Snap elections have long been a demand of the PTI since ex-premier Imran Khan was ousted in a vote of no-confidence. Imran insists that only a government with the mandate can carry out the tough decisions required to get the country out of the economic morass it is currently in.
The Punjab and KP assemblies were dissolved on Jan 18 and Jan 14, respectively, after the PTI chief had announced that his governments in the two provinces would dissolve their assemblies to pave the way for fresh elections.
In his letter to the CEC, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, the president said that since his letter dated February 8, some substantial developments had taken place, specifically the judgments by the Lahore High Court and the Supreme Court.
Earlier this month, the LHC had directed the electoral watchdog to immediately announce the date for elections in Punjab. Meanwhile, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial stated that the “solution of all issues of the country is only possible through the people’s decision”.
The president expressed displeasure over the “apathy and inaction” on the part of the commission that did not respond to his earlier letter as yet.
The president stated that he had waited anxiously that the ECP would realise its constitutional duties to proceed and act accordingly, but was extremely dismayed by the commission’s “poignant approach on this important matter”.
In his letter, the president once again reminded the ECP that being “conscious” of his constitutional responsibility of “preserving, protecting and defending the Constitution”, he was inviting the CEC for the meeting on February 20 at his office to consult on the date or dates of the general elections.
Alvi asks ECP to ‘immediately announce’ election date for KP, Punjab
On February 8, Alvi wrote a letter to the election commission and urged it to “immediately announce” the date for polls in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab and put an end to “dangerous speculative propaganda” on both the provincial assembly and general elections.
In the first letter addressed to the CEC, Alvi said that the election of an assembly is to be held within 90 days of the dissolution as provided by Article 224(2) of the Constitution.
The president conveyed that it was ultimately the commission, which if it failed to discharge its functions and duties, was to be held responsible and answerable for the violation of the Constitution of the country.
“I am of the firm view that there are no such circumstances as may furnish any justification for delaying or postponing of elections, in fact if such postponements of constitutionally mandated elections are evaluated throughout the world in recent history, they have morphed into serious long term set-backs to democracy,” he stated.
The ruling coalition, however, has insisted that the country cannot afford separate polls, confirming its intention that elections in Punjab and KP within 90 days were not going to happen.