‘Issue election schedule’, president tells ECP

ISLAMABAD (Agencies): President Dr Arif Alvi on Wednesday asked the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to immediately issue the election schedule for the provincial assemblies of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or else it would be held responsible for violation of the Constitution.
According to a press release issued by the President’s Secretariat, President Alvi made the appeal in a letter he wrote to Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja. The president reminded the CEC that Article 224(2) stipulates that elections are to be held within 90 days if an assembly has been dissolved before time. He added that ECP’s primary job was to conduct and hold elections. “Thus, it is ultimately the Commission, which if it fails to discharge its functions and duties, is to be held responsible and answerable for the violation of our Constitution,” the president warned the ECP. Referring to his oath of preserving and defending the Constitution, President Alvi reminded the CEC and the ECP members about their fundamental duty as per their oath under Article 214 and Third Schedule of the Constitution.
Dr Alvi reminded the ECP chief and members that they should announce the election date to avoid serious consequences of breach and violation of the Constitution and law. The president also highlighted that the “oldest democracies had never delayed elections even during wars”. He highlighted the example of former United States presidents James Madison and Abraham Lincoln who went ahead with elections despite their country being at war.
“I am of the firm view that there are no such circumstances as may furnish any justification for delaying or postponing of elections, in fact if such postponements of constitutionally mandated elections are evaluated throughout the world in recent history, they have morphed into serious long term set-backs to democracy,” said Dr Alvi. President Alvi lauded the ECP for announcing by-polls for the vacant National Assembly seats and asked the body to immediately issue a election schedule to put an end to “dangerous speculative propaganda” for the upcoming and future general elections.
Interim setups in both Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have settled in after the former prime minister Imran Khan — in a gambit to force the government to hold snap polls — hit the two provincial assemblies like a wrecking ball— but uncertainty over it and when a vote will be held is far from over. Discussions largely concentrating on the possibility of a deferment of polls have already begun churning out fodder for debates regarding the future of Pakistan’s politics. According to the Constitution of Pakistan, if an assembly is dissolved, polls need to be held for the said assembly in 90 days.
However, the governors of both provinces — Baligh Ur Rehman in Punjab and Haji Ghulam Ali in KP — are yet to approve a date for the elections, drawing severe criticism from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.