Election date: ECP to announce next steps today after seeking input from AG, legal experts

President has no role in fixing election date for provinces, attorney general tells Election Commission

By
Thursday, February 23, 2023
Election Commission of Pakistan. —APP/File


ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will meet today again to review the feedback it received from the attorney general for Pakistan and other legal experts over the announcement of the election date by President Arif Alvi.

According to a report published in The News, the election commission will finalise a way forward today regarding the provincial legislatures’ polls date given by the president.

Attorney General Barrister Shehzad Ata Elahi, according to sources, has informed the commission that the president cannot give an election date rather it is solely the constitutionally granted mandate of the provincial governors.

It was learnt that the attorney general visited the ECP Secretariat and presented his point of view before the forum.

Likewise, two legal experts were also consulted on President Dr Arif Alvi’s letter, wherein he unilaterally fixed April 9 as the date for elections to the assemblies of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, triggering a sharp reaction from the government.

The Election Commission, according to sources, asked the attorney general as well as the two experts to share in writing their ‘input or viewpoint by Thursday (today).

After receiving their point of view, the Election Commission will meet the same day.

The president, in his letter to Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja, had given the election date and asked the Election Commission to immediately announce the election schedule.

Alvi wrote the letter to Sikandar Sultan Raja hours after the commission, through its secretary, wrote to him that he would not be consulted in relation to the fixing of poll dates.

Sources claimed that the attorney general contended before the Election Commission that the Constitution was quite clear and mandated the governors to announce poll dates to the provincial legislatures.

Already, the ECP has taken this position during its meeting on February 21 to discuss the presidential letter and maintained that the governors, and not the president, could fix the poll date.

However, prior to moving ahead, the commission decided to consult the attorney general and two legal experts.

ECP awaits nod from 'competent authority'

A brief statement by the ECP said the commission has been taking and will continue to take all decisions as per the law and the constitution without succumbing to any pressure.

It also said the ECP remains ready to hold elections within 90 days, stressing that the Constitution nowhere says the date for elections is to be given by the commission.

It, however, said the commission was bound to announce the schedule and hold elections after the "competent authority" announces it.