President Dr Arif Alvi on Wednesday wrote a letter to the Election Commission of Pakistan to propose dates for holding general elections in the country under Article 224(2) of the Constitution.
The development comes after the National Assembly deputy speaker threw out a no-confidence motion against PM Imran and the president dissolved the lower house of Parliament on the former’s advice on April 3.
The Supreme Court is currently hearing the matter to decide the legality of the deputy speaker’s ruling and the subsequent actions and orders of the prime minister and the president.
The president’s letter to the ECP stated that under Article 48(5)(A) and Article 224(2) of the Constitution, the president had to appoint a date, not later than 90 days from the date of dissolution of the National Assembly, for holding general elections.
“In order to carry out the mandate of the Constitution of announcing the date of general elections, consultation with the Election Commission is required under Section 57(1) of the Elections Act, 2017,” the letter added.
ECP considering options
On Tuesday, a Dawn report quoting ECP sources said that the electoral body could not hold polls within three months citing various legal hitches and procedural challenges.
However, the election commission had to clarify that it had not issued any statement about holding of elections, but at the same time did not say whether it was ready to conduct the polls in three months.
Meanwhile, sources told Dawn that the electoral body had started considering options to carry out delimitation of constituencies in the minimum possible time.
Sources in the ECP said Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja was chairing meetings to discuss the constitutional crisis arising out of the assailed dissolution of the National Assembly and the ECP’s preparations in case the Supreme Court refused to set aside Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri’s ruling on the no-trust motion and the subsequent dissolution of the assembly.
Section 17 (2) of the Elections Act 2017 directs the ECP to delimit constituencies after every census is officially notified. The current delimitation had been carried out on the basis of provisional results of the 2017 census under a one-time waiver of the legal provision.
Even after the publication of final results of the census in May last year, the commission did not conduct delimitation, perhaps because of the declared intention of the PTI to carry out fresh census in 2023.
A source said the ECP was yet to reach a decision on how to manage early delimitation, adding that one of the possible solutions could be squeezing timelines for delimitation exercise through a presidential ordinance.
He said the law provided for one month to invite objections followed by a process of hearing, adding that if the objections were heard simultaneously, it could save time.