President Dr. Arif Alvi summoned Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja for an urgent meeting on 20th February 2023 (Monday) regarding the announcement of the date for fresh general elections.
According to an official statement issued by the President’s Office, the meeting will focus on the consultation on the terms of Section 57(1) of the Elections Act, 2017, which provides that the president shall “announce the date or dates of the general elections after consultation with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).”
In his letter to the CEC, the president expressed his displeasure with the ECP’s apparent “indifference” and inaction to the matter, adding that his letter dated 8 February 2023 had received no response.
On 8th Feb President Arif Alvi wrote a letter Relationship with the Establishment for over a month says President Arif Alvi and asked the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to issue the election schedule for Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial assemblies as soon as possible or be held responsible for violation of the Constitution.
President Arif 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.
He highlighted that the conduct and holding of elections was the primary and essential duty of the ECP as per PART VIII of the Constitution, particularly Article 218 (3) which assigned the duty to the ECP to ensure the holding of free and fair elections.
“Thus, it is ultimately the Commission, which if it fails to discharge its functions and duties, is to be held responsible and answerable for the violation of our Constitution,” the president warned the ECP.
The president also highlighted that the “oldest democracies had never delayed elections even during wars”. He highlighted the example of former United States presidents James Madison and Abraham Lincoln who went ahead with elections despite their countries being at war.
“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,” said Dr. Alvi.
The president appreciates ECP for taking an appropriate constitutional step by announcing the holding of by-elections on the vacated National Assembly seats.
The Punjab and KP assemblies were dissolved on 18 and 14 Jan respectively, after former prime minister Imran Khan had announced the dissolution of assemblies in an attempt to force the government to hold snap polls.
According to the Constitution of Pakistan, if an assembly is dissolved, polls need to be held for the said assembly in 90 days.