President warns PM of ‘contempt of court’ if polls not held ‘as per given timeframe’

Arif Alvi writes letter to Shehbaz Sharif on holding elections in Punjab, KP n Expresses concern over ‘no meaningful consultation’ with him by PM n Criticises ‘fake cases’ against politicians and ‘atrocities of police against innocent citizens’.


ISLAMABAD    -    President Dr Arif Alvi has made another in­tervention on the pre­vailing political situa­tion, delay in elections for Punjab and KP as­semblies and deterio­rating press freedom situation by writing a strong-worded letter to Prime Minister Sheh­baz Sharif.

In the letter written to the PM yesterday, the President emphasized that all concerned ex­ecutive authorities of federal and provincial governments should be directed to refrain from abuse of human rights and assist the Elec­tion Commission of Pa­kistan (ECP) for hold­ing general elections in Punjab and Khyber Pa­khtunkhwa, within the timeframe, in compli­ance of Supreme Court’s order dated 1st March, 2023, to avoid further complications including contempt of court.

The President said that he was writing the letter as events had tak­en place in the recent past that were highlighted by the print, electronic and social media about glaring violations of fundamental and human rights that needed to be brought to the Prime Minister’s notice to ensure remedial measures and preventive action.

The President stated that elec­tions of provincial assemblies, in case of their dissolution un­der Article 105 or Article 112, were required to be held within 90 days under Article 224 (2) of the Constitution. He added that the Supreme Court of Pakistan vide its order dated 1st March, 2023 had directed the ECP to propose date(s) to the Presi­dent for holding the poll with­in 90 days or on a date that de­viates to barest minimum from aforesaid deadline. 

He said that the Governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was also directed by the Supreme Court to appoint a date for holding the general election for Provin­cial Assembly of Khyber Pakh­tunkhwa as per the timeframe. Subsequently, ECP had pro­posed holding of general elec­tions between 30th April – 7th May, 2023 and general elections for the Provincial Assembly of Punjab were announced to be held on 30th April, 2023 and the same was notified by the ECP.

The President said that it appeared that federal and care-taker governments in Pun­jab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa advised the heads of concerned departments to indicate their inability to provide necessary support for holding general elections. 

He referred to Article 220 of the Constitution which states that “it shall be the duty of all ex­ecutive authorities in the Feder­ation and in the Provinces to as­sist the Commissioner and the Election Commission in the dis­charge of his or their functions”. The President underlined that in his opinion, flagrant violation of the Constitution had been committed by the executive au­thorities and government de­partments, adding that ECP had not implemented his announce­ment of holding general elec­tions in Punjab on 30th April, 2023 and also blatantly violated the Supreme Court’s order dat­ed 1st March, 2023. 

The ECP has announced the date of 8th October, 2023 for holding general elections of provincial assemblies of Pun­jab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, he said.

The President also said that it was a matter of concern that no meaningful consultation with the President on policy issues had been undertaken by the Prime Minister in line with the Article 46 of the Constitution, which provided that Prime Min­ister shall keep the President in­formed on all matters of inter­nal and foreign policy and on all legislative proposals the feder­al government intends to bring before the Parliament.

He added that Rule 15(5) of Rules of Business, 1973 also highlighted the responsibility of the Prime Minister, inter-alia, to furnish such information re­lating to the administration of affairs of the Federation and proposals for legislation as the President may call for.

In his letter, the President also drew the attention of the Prime Minister towards the se­riousness of incidents of Human Rights violations, atrocities of police/law enforcement agen­cies and grossly disproportion­ate use of force against the citi­zens of Pakistan. 

He said that multiple fake and frivolous cases had been registered against politicians, workers, journalists and me­dia persons; houses of politi­cal workers had been raided, and citizens had been abduct­ed without warrants and lawful justification.

The President termed the in­cidents of human rights viola­tions and oppression by state machinery against innocent cit­izens as in “clear breach and vi­olations of fundamental rights guaranteed by Article 4 of the Constitution that provides for, and guarantees citizens to en­joy the protection of law and to be treated in accordance with the law. He also referred to Ar­ticle 9 on ‘security of person’, Article 10 on ‘safeguards as to arrest and detention’, Article 10-A on ‘right to fair trial’, Arti­cle 14 on ‘inviolability of dignity of man etc.’, Article 15 on ‘free­dom of movement etc.’, Article 16 on ‘freedom of assembly’, Article 17 on ‘freedom of asso­ciation’ and Article 19 on ‘free­dom of speech’, and said that the spirit and mandate of these ar­ticles were being clearly trans­gressed? This has tarnished the image of Pakistan in the in­ternational community and is casting negative repercussions on the future of democracy and state of Human Rights in Paki­stan, he added.

The President further high­lighted that in World Press Free­dom Index of 2021, Pakistan ranked 145 out of 180 coun­tries and dropped to 157 i.e., 12 points downwards in the World Press Freedom Index, 2022, which reflected the sorry state of affairs and this year’s actions and images would further exac­erbate Pakistan’s already dis­mal ranking. 

He wrote that in recent months, media had been further suppressed and journalists had also been subjected to charges of sedition and terrorism to sti­fle dissent and criticism against the government. It appears that a reign of terror has been un­leashed against the media per­sons who have independent opinions, he added.

The President concluded that the Prime Minister, being head of Government, was responsi­ble for the safeguard of Human Rights as well as Fundamental Rights of every citizen of Paki­stan as enshrined in the Con­stitution, and therefore, all con­cerned executive authorities of federal and provincial govern­ments should be directed to refrain from abuse of human rights and also to assist the ECP to hold general elections in Pun­jab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

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