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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

CEC decides against meeting President Alvi for election date

CEC Sikandar Sultan Raja responded to President Arif Alvi’s invitation and stated that the president is no longer empowered to fix an "appropriate" election date.

The Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), Sikandar Sultan Raja, has decided against meeting with President Dr Alvi to discuss the date of the upcoming general election.

According to the details, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) responded to President Arif Alvi’s letter inviting CEC Sikandar Sultan Raja and stated that the president is no longer empowered to fix an “appropriate” election date.

To clarify, on February 20th, President Alvi had independently declared April 9th as the election date for the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies. This move was prompted by the PTI provincial governments dissolving the two assemblies prematurely, at the behest of party chairman Imran Khan, before their full five-year term had concluded.

Read more: Why are Pakistan’s elections under a shadow?

The president’s unilateral announcement came after his offer for discussions regarding the election dates for these assemblies was declined by the ECP. However, the situation has since evolved due to recent changes in election laws. These amendments now grant the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) the authority to determine the election date without requiring input from the president.

In the letter addressed to the president today, CEC Raja said it was “imperative” to point out that Section 57 of the Elections Act had been amended due to an act of Parliament, which had empowered the commission to “announce the date or dates for the general elections”.

“The commission believes with utmost respect that the reliance placed on the provisions of the Constitution mentioned on your subject letter are not applicable in this context,” Raja’s letter said.

“In view of the above, the commission is of the considered view that participation in the meeting would be of scant consequence,” the letter further said.

It may be noted that President Arif Alvi on Wednesday invited Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja for a meeting to decide the date of the general elections.

Read more: Democracy in Crisis: Unmasking Pakistan’s Illusion of Fair Elections

In the letter President wrote that he dissolved the National Assembly on August 09 on the advice of the prime minister. “President is bound to give the date of general elections, being held within 90 days after the dissolution of the assembly under the Article 48-V,” the President wrote in the letter.