ISLAMABAD, Sept 11: As the matter of the general elections in the country hangs in the balance with the political circles divided on the timing of the polls, President Arif Alvi is expected to announce the date for the electoral process anytime, sources privy to the development said on Monday.
They said that the matter of the poll date was discussed in a meeting of President Alvi with the caretaker law minister, who was of the view that the announcement of the election date is the prerogative of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
However, sources within the Presidential Palace claimed that the idea of Dr Alvi’s likelihood of appointing a date is “wrong” as the deliberation on the matter of polls is still underway.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has called upon the president to announce the date for the elections in a letter written by the party’s General Secretary Omar Ayub Khan.
The National Assembly and the provincial assemblies of Sindh and Balochistan were dissolved on August 9 with the president’s approval, providing the onset of a caretaker government to run the country’s affairs and hold the general elections.
“Under Article 48(5) of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 when the President dissolves the National Assembly, he is to appoint a date not later than 90 days from the date of dissolution for the holding of general elections to the Assembly,” the letter read.
It further stated that the said Article has also been interpreted in two judgements of the Supreme Court, namely Mohammad Sibtain Khan and others vs the ECP and the apex court’s suo motu case on the elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s assemblies, which had been prematurely dissolved.
The letter referred to the apex court’s decision in the suo motu case according to which when the president dissolves the NA, he has the authority to give a date for holding the general elections to the house.
“The giving of the date is hence a Constitutional obligation and mandate of the President of Pakistan. Needless to say, that loyalty to state and obedience to the Constitution and law is an inviolable obligation of every citizen wherever he may be and of every other person for the time being in Pakistan (Article 5),” it stated.
The letter mentioned that under Section 57 of the Elections Act, 2017, the electoral body has the right to appoint the date for elections but the section itself states that it is subject to the Constitution.
“As you are well aware, in any case, it is an established principle that no law can override the Constitution. Accordingly, the right of the ECP to fix a date for elections under the Election Act 2017 is subject to Article 48(5) of the Constitution, hence, when the National Assembly is dissolved by the President, it is the President alone who can fix the date,” it added.
It urged President Alvi to exercise the authority to give a date for the polls as per the Constitution and the law as well as the judgements of the Supreme Court, so that the nation could choose the elected representatives and the country could function as per their will.