A meeting of law ministers from the center and the provinces on Wednesday unanimously stressed that it is the responsibility of all organs of the state to respect the autonomy and authority of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in carrying out delimitation of constituencies and determining the election schedule.
According to a statement issued by the Press Information Department, the meeting was convened by interim Law and Justice Minister Ahmad Irfan Aslam and included the participation of caretaker law ministers from Punjab, Kanwar Dilshad; Sindh, Muhammad Omer Soomro; Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Arshad Hussain Shah; and Balochistan, Amanullah Kanrani. It said they had discussed matters pertaining to the upcoming general elections to the National and provincial assemblies and underscored the importance of upholding the principles of democracy and ensuring smooth conduct of elections.
“It was unanimously agreed that the Constitution must be read as a whole and no provision of the Constitution must be read in isolation of other relevant provisions,” read the statement, noting the conduct of general elections and announcement of elections date was the sole competence of the ECP. It said the provincial law ministers had emphasized that general elections should be held simultaneously nationwide to strengthen the federation, ensure harmony amongst all federating units and avoid unnecessary financial burden on the national exchequer for the provision of security arrangements.
The discussion, it said, had also highlighted the government’s commitment to ensuring free, fair, and transparent elections, adhering to the principles of democratic governance. “The federal and provincial governments remains dedicated in promoting a democratic and inclusive electoral environment,” it added.
The meeting occurred a day after a reported third meeting between Aslam and President Arif Alvi, during which the two discussed the schedule for general elections. The interim law minister has repeatedly maintained that the ECP is the sole competent authority to announce an election schedule after amendments to the Elections Act, even as Alvi has indicated he believes he has the mandate to announce a date for elections.