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Photo Source: The News International

Pakistan Reader# 652, 24 August 2023

Presidents invites Chief Elections Commissioner to set general elections date



Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja to decide on an “appropriate date” to hold the upcoming general elections

Femy Francis

On 24 August, President Arif Alvi in a letter requested to invite Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja to decide on an “appropriate date” to hold the upcoming general elections for Pakistan. He pointed out that the National Assembly was dissolved on 9 August on the advice of Prime Minister and according to Article 48 clause 5 of the constitution, it is the President’s responsibility to allocate the date for the upcoming polls within the stipulated 90 days period from dissolution.
 
The News International, was informed by an anonyms source that CEC Raja may not accept the invitation stating that the CEC held a meeting to discuss the matter as ECP does not require to have any consultation with the President expressing: “The law is very clear about it. President has cited the wrong article for this purpose.” He clarified Article 48 clause 5 stands when the ‘President’ dissolves the National Assembly then he shall appoint a date. Contrary to the situation here the National Assembly was dissolved at the recommendation of the Prime Minister and therefore provides no jurisdiction to the President to make the decision.

Regardless even if the President does dissolve the assembly, the recent amendments to elections law Article 57 clause 1 by PDM clearly stripped of the Presidential power to fix election date. The amendment states that: “The commission shall announce the date or dates of the general elections by notification in the official gazette and shall call upon the constituencies to elect their representatives,” which gave the power to set poll date to ECP as originally in the constitution that was taken away by General Ziaul Haq and relocate to the President during his tenure.
 
Additionally, US Ambassador Donald Bloom reasserted their support to CEC Sikander Sultan Raja for conducting free and fair elections, conducted in following the constitution and law. Bloom expressed that ambiguity lays over the upcoming elections and that US will remain committed to deepen their relationship whomsoever the leader or party may be.
 
References
Asim Yasin, Mumtaz Alvi & m saleh zaafir, “President Arif Alvi invites CEC for meeting to fix polls date,” The News International, 24 August 2023
Umar Cheema, “CEC may not meet president for consultation on election date,” The News International, 24 August 2023
In meeting with CEC, US envoy Donald Blome urges Pakistan to move ahead with free, and fair elections,” Daily Pakistan, 24 August 2023)

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