The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday announced that it will consult with the attorney general of Pakistan (AGP) and other legal experts prior to issuing any response to President Arif Alvi’s unilateral announcement of a date for elections in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
In a statement issued after a meeting convened to deliberate on Alvi’s announcement of April 9 for the polls, the ECP said it had been chaired by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja and all members of the electoral watchdog. Stressing that the ECP “has been and will continue to make decisions without any pressure according to the Constitution and law,” the statement maintained that the electoral body was ready to conduct elections within 90 days as per the Constitution and law. However, it added, the Constitution does not allow the commission to give a date for elections; only to announce an election schedule after a date has been fixed by a competent authority.
“The announcement of the date by the president was considered in detail in the meeting of the commission today and it was decided to take further guidance from the Attorney General for Pakistan and other legal experts,” it said, adding that the AGP had been invited to brief the ECP tomorrow (Wednesday). It said two constitutional experts were also being sought for consultation.
Citing Article Section 57(2) of the Elections Act, 2017, Alvi announced a date for polls in Punjab and KP, adding that he was compelled to take the step to “avoid a breach of the Constitution.” His decision, however, was condemned by several federal ministers, who maintained that the president only has the authority to announce a date for elections to the National Assembly and not to the provincial assemblies.