ISLAMABAD: Amid speculations of delays in general elections due to fresh delimitation exercise, the Ministry of Law and Justice informed President Arif Alvi, who had asked the Election Com­mission of Pakistan to fix a date for election, that powers to announce poll date rested with the ECP, not the president.

The letter penned by the law ministry was not released to media, but Dawn confirmed from sources in the President’s House that Mr Alvi has indeed received the communique. There were no official statements from the ministry and the presidency over the matter. Attempts were made to get copy of the letter from the presidency and the law ministry but officials were reluctant to share the letter.

Some media outlets shared the contents of the letter, attributing it to their sources. These reports suggested that after the amendments made in the Elections Act, the president no longer had the power to determine the date of elections.

President Alvi had written to law ministry for advice after CEC turned down his request for meeting to settle an election date

This letter followed a response to the president by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, who told the president that under the amended law, giving election date was the sole prerogative of the election watchdog. Mr Alvi had invited him for a meeting on the election date.

“Participation in such a confab would be of ‘scant importance’ after recent changes to the election law…citing Clause 57 of Election Act meant that giving election date is the sole prerogative of ECP,” the CEC mentioned in his response to the letter sent by President Arif Alvi.

His response spurred the president to approach the law ministry for advice. In his letter to the ministry, President Alvi had quoted Article 244 of the Constitution, saying he was duty-bound to get the elections conducted in the 90 days’ prescribed period once the National Assembly is dissolved prematurely.

However, in its response on Wednes­day, the ministry told the president that after changes to the elections act the president had no role in announcing the date for elections.

Published in Dawn, August 31st, 2023

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