President Alvi likely to announce election date anytime soon

President Arif Alvi is likely to give a date for next general elections in Pakistan anytime, sources said on Monday.

It comes after the president held a meeting with caretaker Law Minister Ahmed Irfan Aslam to hold consultation regarding elections.

“The continuation of the consultation process with good intentions will prove to be productive for the democracy in the country,” the president remarked.

Sources said the law minister told the president that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had the authority to announce a date for elections.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has written a letter to President Alvi, urging him to immediately give a date for polls in the country.

The National Assembly was dissolved last month days before the completion of its constitutional term to clear the way for holding elections within 90 days. The constitution states that election should be held within 60 days if assemblies are dissolved on completion of five-year term and in case of premature dissolution, the stipulated period is enhanced to 90 days.

As per the Constitution, the general elections in Pakistan must be held till November 2023 as the National Assembly had been dissolved prematurely on August 9, 2023. However, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has hinted at delay in the polls as it has decided to go for fresh delimitation in line with the digital census.

Last month, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sultan Sikandar Raja said a recent amendment to the Clause 57 of Election Act meant that giving election date was the sole prerogative of the ECP as he responded to the letter sent by President Arif Alvi.

According to the ECP [Election Commission of Pakistan] spokesperson, the CEC had sent a written response to the president, in which it mentioned that he [Raja] won’t meet him to discuss the election date issue.

The letter said the last National Assembly was dissolved under Article 58 (1) [just days before the completion of its tenure] on the advice of prime minister [Shehbaz Sharif]. Had the president dissolved the legislature after it completed the five-year term, he would have enjoyed the power to announce election date under Article 58 (2) which wasn’t the case, it added.

Moreover, the CEC also noted in the letter that the process to carry out delimitation had started on the basis of new census.
The response came after Mr Alvi invited Raja for a meeting to fix a date for elections – a move that raised many eyebrows as the electoral body has now been empowered to decide the matter without having to consult the president.

Alvi quoted Article 244 of the Constitution, saying he was duty-bound to get the elections conducted in the 90-day period once the National Assembly was dissolved prematurely. He also cited Article 48 (5) to argue his case.

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