ECP to consult AGP, legal experts for guidance on Punjab, KP elections

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), in its latest move regarding the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa polls, decided to consult the attorney-general of Pakistan (AGP) and other legal experts, a day after President Arif Alvi unilaterally announced a date for the elections.

As the Commission delayed the announcement of a date to hold the provincial assemblies' elections, President Alvi announced April 9 as the date, in a surprise move that drew rejection from the ruling alliance on Monday.

In a notification issued on Tuesday, the electoral body reiterated that it would continue to make decisions as per the Constitution and laws.

"The Election Commission is ever ready to hold polls in 90 days under the Constitution and law," the notification read.

It stated that the Constitution and laws don't mention anywhere that the Commission will give a date for the elections. However, the ECP is bound to hold the elections after the announcement of a date by a "competent authority", it added.

The electoral body stated that it held a meeting, chaired today by Chief Election Commissioner Sikander Sultan Raja, in which President Alvi's move was discussed and it was decided to take guidance from the AGP and other legal experts regarding the election date.

"The meeting decided that the Commission will continue to take decisions in line with the Constitution without any pressure," it said.

The notification further stated that the AGP had been invited for consultations tomorrow (February 21), while two legal experts were being selected to join the talks. 

President announces date for polls in Punjab, KP

A day after the ECP excused itself from holding consultations with President Arif Alvi on polls in the two provinces for the time being, the head of state had announced to hold elections on April 9.

The president had made the announcement under section 57(1) of the Election Act 2027. 

According to a statement issued by the President’s Secretariat, President Alvi had asked the ECP to issue an election programme in accordance with section 57 (2) of the Act.

In his letter to the CEC, the president had said that he was under oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution under Article 42 read with the third schedule of the Constitution.

He had written that there being no restraining order from any of the judicial fora, there was no impediment in invoking the power and authority vested in him under Section 57 (1) of Elections Act, 2017, empowering him to "announce the date or dates of the general elections after consultation with the Commission".

The president had also added that he had felt it necessary to perform his constitutional and statutory duty to announce the date of elections to avoid the infringement and breach of the Constitution and law i.e., holding of elections not later than 90 days.

The president had further said that the governors of Punjab and KP were not performing their constitutional duties for appointing a date, not later than 90 days from the date of dissolution of provincial assemblies as per the Constitution.

He had added that the ECP was also not fulfilling its constitutional obligation for holding polls for the assemblies of Punjab and KP.

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