The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has notified October 8 as the date for provincial elections for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, it emerged on Wednesday.

The ECP notification, available with Dawn.com and dated March 27, said the election programme would be issued in a due course of time.

It means that the electoral watchdog has pushed the KP election to the same date to which it postponed the elections for the Punjab Assembly — a matter that has since been taken to the Supreme Court.

The ECP’s decision came after KP Gover­­nor Ghulam Ali on Friday proposed Oct 8 for elections in his province as well.

The Supreme Court on March 1 had ruled that elections in KP and Punjab should be held within 90 days, after the dissolution of provincial assemblies in January, or on a date that “deviates to the barest minimum” from the constitutional deadline.

The KP governor, in his fourth letter to the ECP — seen by Dawn — had invited the commission’s attention to several militant attacks.

The governor wrote that since the ECP had lately postponed elections in Punjab and announced Oct 8 as the new date, the same date was proposed for holding elections in KP in the larger public interest.

Claiming that the apex court’s orders would be fully implemented, he had said he desired free, fair and peaceful polls in the province, but residents of tribal districts were protesting against the conduct of general elections before the announcement of new census results, he added.

According to the KP governor, the security situation in the province was completely different from that of Punjab. “I have shared my opinion with the ECP and the rest is ECP’s job,” he had said, adding that the commission was a constitutional body.

Punjab, KP election limbo

In a mammoth public gathering in November last year, former prime minister Imran Khan had announced that his party would disassociate itself from the “current corrupt political system” by quitting the two provincial assemblies where PTI was in power.

Despite several obstacles put up by the coalition government, the Punjab and KP assemblies were dissolved on Jan 14 and Jan 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 the proposal from the ECP had advised the commission to consult stakeholders.

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

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

On Feb 17, President Dr Arif Alvi had invited Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja for an urgent meeting regarding consultations on election dates but the ECP told him he had no role in the announcement of dates for general elections to provincial assemblies and the commission was aware of its constitutional obligation in this regard.

Subsequently, the president unilaterally announced April 9 as the date for holding general elections for the Punjab and KP assemblies.

The move drew sharp criticism from his political opponents, who accused him of acting like a PTI worker while the ECP said it would announce the poll schedule only after the “competent authority” fixes the date.

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