President empowered under the Constitution to announce election date: PPP’s Nayyar Bukhari

Published August 28, 2023
PPP leader Nayyar Bukhari speaks in the Dawn News show on Sunday. — Dawn News TV
PPP leader Nayyar Bukhari speaks in the Dawn News show on Sunday. — Dawn News TV

PPP leader Nayyar Bukhari has said that the president of Pakistan could announce an election date in accordance with the Constitution, citing that the law provides the necessary framework and grants the head of state the authority to make such a decision.

“As per my understanding and simple reading of the Constitution, he [the president] can announce an election date, and there can be a difference of opinion on it,” he said in an interview on Dawn News programme Doosra Rukh.

After the approval of the 2023 census, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had on Aug 17 decided to conduct fresh delimitation of constituencies, making it almost certain that general elections may not be held within the constitutionally stipulated limit of 90 days.

The development was followed by the premature dissolution of the National Assembly and the farewell of the Shehbaz Sharif-led coalition government on Aug 9.

Article 224 of the Constitution binds the electoral body to conduct general elections within 90 days of the dissolution. Meanwhile, Section 17(2) of the Elections Act reads, “The commission shall delimit constituencies after every census is officially published.”

Adhering to this requirement, the ECP announced last week that the process of fresh delimitation is anticipated to conclude by Dec 14, which is more than a month beyond the constitutionally prescribed deadline for conducting general elections.

The development prompted President Dr Arif Alvi to extend an invitation to Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja for a meeting with the purpose of “determining an appropriate date” for the general elections. In response, the CEC conveyed that participating in such a discussion would carry “limited significance” after amendments to the election law.

Speaking in the Dawn News shows on Sunday, Bukhari emphasised that the PPP maintained a distinct ideology and was committed to adhering to its principles. He clarified that following the dissolution of assemblies, the party was no longer in alliance with the PML-N.

Bukhari highlighted the prevailing discontent and frustration among the general populace, predominantly stemming from concerns such as the escalating inflation rates.

The senior party leader stated that he believed the president could announce the election date under the Constitution.

“I am of the opinion that the Constitution is supreme.”

When questioned about the PPP’s stance in the event of the president announcing an election date versus the ECP’s position, Bukhari affirmed that his party would remain committed to upholding the Constitution.

“We will stand by the Constitution,” he responded.

The PPP leader further noted that the party had made substantial sacrifices to uphold the Constitution, and therefore, it would continue to support it.

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