President Arif Alvi on Friday announced April 30 as the date for elections in Punjab, within hours of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) providing him with the option to pick a date between April 30 and May 7 in line with directions of the Supreme Court.
“President Arif Alvi has announced to hold general elections of Punjab Assembly on April 30, Sunday,” read a posting on the official Twitter account of the President’s Office. It said that the decision was taken after Alvi considered “the dates suggested by the Election Commission.”
Earlier, after three days of meetings, the ECP had written to the president recommending that he pick a date between April 30 and May 7 for polls to the Punjab Assembly. “The commission is ready to fulfil its constitutional and legal obligations after the selection of a date by the president,” it said.
In a separate letter to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Governor Haji Ghulam Ali, the ECP said it was awaiting a date for him in light of the apex court’s ruling to announce a date for polls in the province.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led governments of Punjab and KP were dissolved on Jan. 14 and 18, respectively, in a bid to trigger early general elections. Under the Constitution, the elections for dissolved assemblies must be held within 90 days of their dissolution. However, the Punjab governor had refused to provide any date, maintaining that as he did not dissolve the assembly, he was not the relevant authority to pick a date for polls. The KP governor, meanwhile, had urged the ECP to consult with law enforcement agencies over the security situation before picking any date for the polls.
The matter had been taken up by the Supreme Court in a suo motu notice, which had concluded by directing the ECP to announce a date for polls with the “barest minimum” deviation from the 90-day deadline. It had also directed the ECP to consult with the president for a date of polls in Punjab, and likewise consult with the KP governor to announce a date for elections in the province.