President Alvi announces April 9 as date for Punjab, KP elections

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ISLAMABAD, FEB 20: /DNA/ – Amid delay from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) over the announcement of elections date, President Dr Arif Alvi on Monday announced to hold polls in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab on April 9.

The president announced the date by exercising his power under Section 57 (1) of the Elections Act, 2017, he further asked the electoral body to issue an election programme in accordance with Section 57 (2) of the Act.

Last week, the president had summoned Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja for an urgent meeting on February 20 (Monday) for consultation regarding the date of the poll as he lambasted him over ECP’s “poignant approach” regarding the general elections date.

However, the election commission had excused itself from holding consultations with President Alvi for the time being, saying that the matter was already under judicial consideration.

In his letter to Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja, the president said that he was under oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution under Article 42 read with third schedule of the Constitution.

He wrote that there being no restraining order from any of the judicial fora, there was no impediment in invoking the power and authority vested in him under Section 57 (1) of Elections Act, 2017, empowering him to “announce the date or dates of the general elections after consultation with the Commission”.

The president also added that he had felt it necessary to perform his constitutional and statutory duty to announce the date of elections to avoid the infringement and breach of the Constitution and law i.e., holding of elections not later than 90 days.

The president further said that the governors of Punjab and KP were not performing their constitutional duties for appointing a date, not later than 90 days from the date of dissolution of provincial assemblies as per the Constitution.

He added that the ECP was also not fulfilling its constitutional obligation for holding polls for the assemblies of Punjab and KP.

“Both the constitutional offices are placing the ball in each other’s court, similar to the old Urdu proverb پہلے آپ، نہیں، پہلے آپ, thus, resulting in delay and creating a serious danger that constitutional provisions may be violated.”

He pointed out that the election watchdog had already indicated the possible dates of elections in its various communications to the constitutional functionaries showing its own responsibility of holding the elections within ninety days.

The president further said that he had initiated a serious consultation process with the ECP under Section 57 (1) of the Elections Act, 2017 to announce the date for the general elections of the aforementioned assemblies, however, the ECP replied that the commission could not participate in a meeting on the subject matter with the Office of the president.