President Arif Alvi on Thursday wrote to the Ministry of Law and Justice to seek its opinion on the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) informing him that he is no longer empowered to fix a date for general elections after amendments to the Elections Act, 2017.
In a statement posted on X, formerly Twitter, the Presidency said Alvi had written a letter to the ministry’s secretary on the ECP’s response to a letter he wrote earlier this week seeking a meeting with Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja to fix a date for polls. In his response, the CEC had described any meeting with Alvi on the matter of fixing a date for elections to be of “scant consequence,” as the amended Elections Act empowered the ECP as the sole authority to issue a date or dates for elections. The letter also noted that, per the ECP’s understanding, if the National Assembly is dissolved on the advice of the prime minister or by afflux of time as provided in Article 58(1) of the Constitution, then the ECP exclusively has the power to appoint a date or dates for elections.
In his letter to the CEC, the president had stressed that elections must be conducted within 90 days of an assembly’s dissolution, and as such, he was seeking a meeting with the electoral body’s chief to fix a date for polls.
Speaking with Geo News, caretaker Law Minister Ahmad Irfan Aslam said his office had yet to receive the letter from the president, but noted that a response would be issued in light of the applicable laws once it was received. In case of the law ministry supporting the ECP’s stance on fixing a date for elections, per legal experts, it is likely that Alvi could approach the Supreme Court and seek its interpretation of the apparent conflict between the Constitution and the amended Elections Act, 2017.