President not authorised to fix polls date, ECP tells Alvi

ISLAMABAD (APP): Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja on Thursday informed the president that the discussion about selecting an election date would have “scant consequences” owing to recent changes in the election law. The CEC, in a two-page letter addressed to President Dr Arif Alvi, expressed the Commission’s profound respect for the president’s office.
“Meeting and seeking guidance on national matters from the president has always been regarded as an honour, when the circumstances are suitable. However, the Commission’s view is that participating in the meeting will lead to negligible consequences.” President Alvi wrote a letter to CEC Sikandar Raja on Wednesday, inviting him for a meeting to fix a date for general elections.
He asserted that since the National Assembly was dissolved on August 9, 2023, therefore under Article 48 (5) of the Constitution, he (as the president) was obliged to appoint a date not later than 90 days from the date of dissolution for the holding of general election of National Assembly. The CEC, in his letter, stated that since the Elections Act (Amendment) Bill 2023 was enacted into law, announcing the date for polls was the sole prerogative of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
He pointed out that Section 57 of the Election Act of 2017 had recently been amended and, unlike the previous position, now the Commission was empowered to announce the date(s) for elections. “Article 48(1) of the Constitution stipulates that the president follows the prime minister’s advice. Article 48, Clause (5), carries a non-obstante clause. Notably, the National Assembly dissolution was advised by the prime minister, rendering Article 48(5) inapplicable in this context,” he asserted. Prior to the amendment of Section 57(1) of the Act, the CEC said, the president was required to consult the ECP before appointing a date for election.
However, after the amendment in Section 57, the Commission had been empowered to announce the date or dates for the general elections. The CEC mentioned that the ECP was concurrently engaged in constituency delimitation.
It had also initiated the procedure of inviting prominent political parties to share their perspectives on the electoral roadmap, he added.

President House seeks opinion of Law Ministry

ISLAMABAD (APP): The President House Thursday here sought opinion of Ministry of Law and Justice on the letter written by the Election Commission of Pakistan.
The President House asked for the opinion on the viewpoint of the Election Commission that only Election Commission had the authority to give a date for elections. The opinion was sought after the Election Commission replied to a letter written by the President on Wednesday. The President House addressed its letter to the Secretary Ministry of Law and Justice.

‘Choosing future leaders is for Pakistanis to decide’

ISLAMABAD (Agencies): US Ambassador Donald Blome met Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja Thursday to reaffirm the US support for “free and fair elections”, saying it would work to strengthen the US-Pakistan relationship with “whomever the Pakistani people choose”.
“The United States remains committed to working to broaden and deepen the US-Pakistan relationship with whomever the Pakistani people choose”, a statement from the US embassy’s spokesperson read. Ambassador Blome’s remarks come against a backdrop of uncertainty surrounding the general elections in Pakistan.
During the meeting on Thursday, the US ambassador reiterated that choosing Pakistan’s future leaders is for the Pakistani people to decide, the statement added. Blome also reaffirmed that America would back transparent elections “conducted in accordance with Pakistan’s laws and constitution”.