Islamabad (Web Desk): President Dr Arif Alvi, in a letter to Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja, on Wednesday proposed November 6 as the date to hold general elections in Pakistan.
In the letter, the president wrote that in the light of Article 48(5) of the Constitution, he has the authority and mandate “to appoint a date not later than 90 days from the date of dissolution [of assemblies], for holding of a general election to the assembly.”
صدر مملکت ڈاکٹر عارف علوی کا چيف الیکشن کمشنر ، سکندر سلطان راجہ، کے نام خط— The President of Pakistan (@PresOfPakistan) September 13, 2023
صدر مملکت نے 9 اگست کو وزیراعظم کے مشورے پر قومی اسمبلی کو تحلیل کیا، صدر مملکت pic.twitter.com/5W88oKxX62
Hence, “in terms of Article 48(5), the general election to the National Assembly should be held by the 89th day of the date of dissolution of the National Assembly, i.e. Monday, 6th day of November 2023”, the letter read.
"In an endeavour to fulfil the constitutional obligations, the Chief Election Commissioner was invited for a meeting to devise the modalities of implementing the Constitutional intent and mandate who in reply took a contrary view that as per the scheme of the Constitution and framework of electoral laws, it was the domain of the Election Commission, and following publication of last preceding census on 07.08.2023, duly notified delimitation of constituencies was in progress, a mandatory requirement stipulated by Article 51(5) of the Constitution and section 17 of the Elections Act, 2017," the letter said.
The president said that the federal law ministry was also of a similar view as that of the ECP chief, adding that all four provincial governments are of the view that the announcement of the election date is mandate of the ECP.
“There is a consensus that to strengthen the federation and to promote unity and harmony amongst provinces and to avoid incurring of unnecessary expenses, general elections to the National Assembly and the provincial assemblies must be held on same day,” he added.
President Alvi said that it was the responsibility of the ECP to abide by all the constitutional and legal steps stipulated under Articles 51, 218, 219, 220 and the Elections Act, 2017 for organising and conducting free and fair elections.
"Taking into account all the above, the Election Commission of Pakistan in consultation with provincial governments and political parties under the relevant provisions of the Constitution and in view that some of these matters are already subjudice, may seek guidance from the superior judiciary for announcement of a single date for general election to the national and provincial assemblies," the president stated in the letter.
President Alvi's announcement came in the wake of divided opinions about the date for the general elections among the stakeholders, raising concerns of another constitutional crisis in the country.
Earlier today, the federal and provincial law ministers on Wednesday emphasized that is the responsibility of all organs of the state to respect the autonomy of the ECP and its authority in carrying out the delimitation of constituencies and determining the election schedule.
According to a law ministry statement, Caretaker Minister for Law and Justice, Ahmad Irfan Aslam convened a meeting with provincial law ministers including Kanwar Dilshad (Punjab), Muhammad Omer Soomro (Sindh), Arshad Hussain Shah (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and Amanullah Kanrani (Balochistan).
"The Election Commission of Pakistan is an independent constitutional body. It is the responsibility of all organs of the state to respect the autonomy of the ECP and its authority in carrying out the delimitation of constituencies and determining the election schedule," the ministers urged.
The discussion highlighted the government’s commitment to ensuring free, fair, and transparent elections in Pakistan, adhering to the principles of democratic governance, the statement mentioned.
The federal and provincial governments remain dedicated to promoting a democratic and inclusive electoral environment, it added.