ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is most likely to propose holding of elections to the Punjab Assembly in the last week of April, informed sources told Dawn on Thursday.

The commission, which met here for the second consecutive day after the Supreme Court’s verdict in a case relating to delay in the polls to Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies, decided to propose elections in Punjab around a week after Eidul Fitr which is likely to fall on April 22.

An official told Dawn that a tentative schedule for the polls had also been readied and it would be placed before the Commission for approval.

A letter proposing the date for elections to the Punjab Assembly is also most likely to be sent to President Dr Arif Alvi on Friday and the schedule would be issued soon after his approval.

Official says tentative schedule for polls has been prepared

The Supreme Court had on Wednesday ruled that the elections to the two assemblies should be held within the stipulated period of 90 days. It, however, allowed the ECP to propose a poll date that deviates from the 90-day deadline by the “barest minimum”, in case of any practical difficulty.

It also held that President Alvi and the KP governor will fix dates for Punjab and KP assemblies, respectively, in consultation with the ECP.

The Punjab and KP assemblies were dissolved on Jan 14 and 18, respectively. Under the law, the elections are to be held within 90 days after the dissolution of assemblies.

That means April 14 and April 17 were the deadlines for holding general elections to Punjab and KP assemblies, but the two governors instead of setting dates for elections after receiving proposal from the ECP advised the ECP to consult stakeholders.

Chief secretaries and inspectors-general of the two provinces during meetings with the ECP said they were short of police force and talked of terrorism threats, making out a case for putting off elections.

The finance division expressed its inability to provide funds and the interior ministry told the ECP that the army and civil armed forces will not be available.

Published in Dawn, March 3rd, 2023

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