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President Alvi Invites CEC for Meeting to Set Election Date

In letter, president expresses dismay at ECP’s inability to fulfill its ‘constitutional duties’

by Staff Report

Courtesy PID

President Arif Alvi on Friday invited Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja for an “urgent” meeting on Feb. 20 to consult over a date for elections in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

In a letter, the president said the meeting would be held in his office at the Aiwan-i-Sadr and would deliberate on Section 57(1) of Elections Act, 2017, which allows the president to announce dates for elections after consultation with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

Recalling that he had penned a letter to the ECP on Feb. 8—in which he had urged the electoral body to ‘immediately’ announce a date for elections in Punjab and KP—Alvi lamented both the “apathy of no response” for that missive and the ECP’s inaction on announcing a date for polls. Noting that since that letter, “some substantial developments” had occurred in the form of a Lahore High Court judgment and remarks from judges of the Supreme Court, he said he had hoped it would ECP to realize its “constitutional duties” and act accordingly.

However, read the letter, Alvi had been “extremely dismayed” at the ECP’s “poignant approach in this matter.”

The PTI, since dissolving the assemblies in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in mid-January, has been demanding the ECP announce a date for polls, stressing it cannot legally delay elections beyond 90 days after the dissolution of each legislature. However, the Punjab governor has refused to issue a date, maintaining that as he did not dissolve the provincial assembly, he was not the competent authority, while the KP governor has repeatedly cited “security threats” and urged the ECP to discuss the matter with security agencies before announcing any schedule for elections.

In an appearance in the Supreme Court in an unrelated case, the CEC lamented that obstacles were being placed that was preventing the ECP from fulfilling its constitutional obligations. “When I asked the Army for security, I was refused. When I asked the judiciary for permission, they refused it. I asked for money for the elections, I was refused that as well,” he said.

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