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ECP declines Alvi’s invite for “urgent meeting”

ISLAMABAD: On Sunday, Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) turned down President Dr. Arif Alvi’s request for a meeting to discuss the schedule for elections to the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) assemblies, citing the ongoing legal proceedings.

According to a letter from ECP, the chief election commissioner was unable to meet with the president because the matter was still pending before several judicial forums. The letter also stated that the commission would make a final decision regarding the consultation with the president at its meeting on Monday (today).

President’s letter to CEC

A letter from President Alvi inviting CEC Sikandar Sultan Raja to an urgent meeting was forwarded to the commission for consideration, according to a letter to the president’s secretary signed by ECP Secretary Omar Hamid Khan.

Following discussion, the commission instructed the undersigned to express that the commission is well aware of its legal and constitutional obligations and has previously communicated its response to the earlier letter, dated February 8, 2023, describing the entire background.

It was noted that the Constitution’s Articles 105 and 112 when read together set forth the process for announcing the election date in the event that the provincial assembly is dissolved.

The letter said that the commission had addressed the governors of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to request that they announce the date as they had not done so when dissolving the provincial legislatures of those two states.

It also states that the commission convened a consultative meeting with the governor of Punjab on February 14 to discuss the election date in accordance with the Lahore High Court (LHC) ruling from the previous month, which was dated February 10. The governor, however, decided against providing a date and instead chose to pursue legal means.

The commission, according to the letter, has also asked the LHC for additional direction through the filing of an application and has contested the decision through an intra-court appeal on the grounds that the Constitution does not provide for a procedure of consultation with the governor.

Parallel to this, three writ petitions have been submitted to the Peshawar High Court (PHC) asking for instructions on how to set a date for the provincial assembly general elections. It emphasized that under Article 112 of the Constitution, the Election Commission is not authorized to set the election date in the event that a provincial parliament is dissolved by the governor or owing to the passage of time (1).

“Unfortunately, the commission may not be able to enter into a process of consultation with the office of the president for the subject matter at hand due to the above-mentioned grounds and matter being sub judice at various judicial fora,” the letter noted.

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