Friday, March 03, 2023
ISLAMABAD: As the Supreme Court (SC) directed to hold elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa within 90 days after the consultations, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will again meet today to suggest the last week of April as dates for general elections in Punjab Assembly, The News reported on Friday.
The ECP will be meeting for the third consecutive day today to finalise dates for polls in the two provinces.
The Thursday meeting was chaired by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja at the ECP Secretariat that was attended by its members as well as the secretary.
The meetings were conducted after the SC ruling in the case relating to a delay in polls to the provincial assemblies.
According to sources, the ECP finalised to suggest poll dates for the Punjab assembly around a week after Eid ul Fitr, which is likely to fall on April 22.
"The holy month of Ramadan and the religious festival of Eid are being kept in mind," the sources said.
The sources also pointed out that some tentative decisions were taken but these would be announced once the consultation was completed.
Accordingly, a letter to President Dr Arif Alvi, proposing the date for elections to the Punjab Assembly, is most likely to be dispatched on Friday.
The schedule for the Punjab Assembly polls will be issued soon after the president's nod.
The Punjab and KP assemblies were dissolved on January 14 and January 18 respectively, and under the law, the elections were to be held within 90 days after their dissolution.
The court had noted in its verdict, on March 1, that in "ordinary circumstances" the polls should have been held on April 9 as announced by the president.
"However, we are informed that on account of the delay in the emergence of the date for the holding of the general election, it may not be possible to meet the 90-day deadline stipulated by the Constitution. It is also the case that (possibly on account of a misunderstanding of the law) the Election Commission did not make itself available for consultation as required under Section 57(1) of the 2017 Act," read the court order.
"The Election Commission is therefore directed to use its utmost efforts to immediately propose, keeping in mind Sections 57 and 58 of the 2017 Act, a date to the President that is compliant with the aforesaid deadline. If such a course is not available, then the Election Commission shall in like manner propose a date for the holding of the poll that deviates to the barest minimum from the aforesaid deadline. After consultation with the Election Commission, the President shall announce a date for the holding of the general election to the Punjab Assembly," it further directed.
On elections in KP, the verdict directed the governor to announce a date for the polls after consulting the ECP.