“President Alvi Extends Invitation to CEC for Joint Consultation on Election Date Selection
President Dr Arif Alvi has extended an invitation to Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja for a meeting within the next two days to collaboratively determine a suitable date for the upcoming general elections.
A letter, released via the president’s office on social media, highlighted the crucial responsibility of the CEC to adhere to the constitutional mandate of designating a date, not exceeding ninety days from the dissolution date, for the commencement of a general election to the Assembly.
The communication further acknowledged the dissolution of the National Assembly on August 9, following the advice of former Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
Consequently, President Alvi invited the CEC to convene either “today or tomorrow [Wednesday or Thursday]” to collectively establish an optimal date for the election.
This invitation from the president follows concerns about potential election delays arising after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) indicated a fresh delimitation of constituencies.
It is noteworthy that President Alvi and the ECP had previously engaged in a debate regarding the legal requisites for election announcements.
In February, President Alvi had urged the ECP to proceed with elections for the provincial assemblies of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, unilaterally setting April 9 as the polling day.
For further details, refer to Polls Delayed?
This declaration had followed President Alvi’s prompt summons of the CEC for ‘urgent consultations’ concerning the poll dates in K-P and Punjab. However, the ECP had declined the consultation proposal from the president.
In subsequent correspondence, the ECP confirmed via a letter from ECP Secretary Omar Hamid Khan that a consultative session with the president regarding election dates could not be convened due to the matter’s sub judice status in the court of law.
The letter reaffirmed the constitutional duty of the election commission to arrange and conduct elections under Article 218(3) of the Constitution.
The CEC emphasized that the president’s office holds the highest constitutional authority, and the president serves as the head of state, commanding utmost respect from all other constitutional and legal entities.
The response expressed confidence in the impartiality of the office and anticipated guidance from this esteemed position towards other constitutional bodies.
In addressing the president’s invitation, the ECP reiterated its commitment to upholding the constitution and the law, focusing on its core responsibility of overseeing elections, while the president and governors are tasked with announcing election dates.
“The Election Commission is fully aware of its constitutional obligations to organize and oversee elections, and it has taken all necessary steps in this regard. It’s important to note that the role of the president and governors in fixing election dates for assemblies is defined in Article 48(5) and 105(3) of the Constitution, respectively.”
The ECP emphasized that it lacks the constitutional authority to determine a date for a general election to an assembly in case of dissolution.”