The Election Commission of Pakistan has requested legal advice from the Attorney General of Pakistan and legal experts regarding the conduct of elections in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab. Under the leadership of Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja, the ECP conducted a consultative meeting with members, the secretary, and representatives of the law wing.
In a press release, the ECP announced that the AGP, along with two constitutional and legal experts, will be invited on February 22 for consultation on the matter. The electoral watchdog stated that it will continue to make decisions in accordance with the constitution, without any external pressure. It added that in line with the law and constitution, it is prepared to hold polls within 90 days.
While the constitution and law do not mandate that the ECP set the date for elections, the ECP is required to schedule the election as soon as the date is set by the competent authority, according to the ECP press release.
The ECP meeting also thoroughly discussed President Alvi’s directives and decided to enlist the help of the AGP and other legal professionals for additional clarification. The general elections for the provincial assemblies of Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa were set for April 9, 2023, the day before by President Dr. Arif Alvi in accordance with Section 57(1) of the Elections Act, 2017.
According to Section 57(2) of the Elections Act, the president had asked the ECP to release the election programme. Alvi cited his constitutional responsibility to hold elections no later than 90 days following the dissolution of the assembly and to announce the election date in order to avoid breaking the law and the Constitution. He claimed that in failing to set a date, both the governors of Punjab and K-P and the ECP failed to carry out their respective constitutional obligations to conduct elections for the Punjab and K-P assemblies.
The ECP meeting thoroughly discussed the President’s letter and decided to wait until it had received more advice from legal professionals before moving forward.The electoral watchdog is still dedicated to holding free, transparent, and fair elections that adhere to the law and the constitution.