Arif Alvi, the President of Pakistan, invited Sikandar Sultan Raja, the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), for an urgent meeting on February 20, to discuss the dates for the provincial assembly elections in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. In response to the President’s second letter, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) declined to engage in consultations since the matter is currently pending in the courts.
In its response, the ECP stated that it could not consult with the President regarding the dates of provincial assembly elections, as it was the governors’ responsibility to set election dates following the dissolution of the Punjab and K-P assemblies. A date for the elections has not yet been set by either governor, according to the ECP.
The ECP’s meeting with the governor of Punjab was held on February 14 as per a Lahore High Court (LHC) directive. The governor, who believed the LHC’s decision to be non-binding, declined to name a polling day, citing his intention to seek legal redress against it. The Peshawar High Court is currently hearing the ECP’s intra-court appeals against the order as well as other writ petitions.
According to the ECP, despite what Article 112(1) of the Constitution provides, the commission is not authorised by the Constitution to set a polling date in the event that a provincial assembly is dissolved by the governor or due to the passage of time. Due to the fact that the matter is still pending, the ECP made it clear that it will not consult with the President’s office.
The ECP emphasised that the commission’s scheduled meeting on Monday would be when the final decision in the matter would be made, reiterating that the commission is aware of its legal and constitutional responsibilities. Elections will always be held in accordance with the law and the Constitution, according to the ECP.