Meeting between CEC and President Alvi of ‘Scant Importance’ after Changes to Election Law

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The Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), Sikandar Sultan Raja, responded to a letter from President Arif Alvi on Thursday regarding a meeting to discuss the scheduling of general elections. Raja stated that participating in such a meeting would hold “scant importance” due to recent changes in election law.

President Alvi’s letter referred to Article 244 of the Constitution, which states that he is obligated to hold elections within 90 days of the National Assembly’s premature dissolution. The President quoted Article 48(5) of the Constitution, which requires the President to appoint a date for the general elections within the 90-day period.

President Alvi had previously announced April 9 as the date for elections to the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies, but the situation has since changed. Recent amendments to election laws have empowered the CEC to determine the election date without the President’s input.

In his response to the President’s letter, CEC Raja highlighted the amendment made to Section 57 of the Elections Act through an act of Parliament. This amendment grants the commission the authority to announce the date or dates for the general elections.

Raja emphasized that if the National Assembly is dissolved on the advice of the Prime Minister or due to the expiration of its term, the power to appoint the date for elections rests exclusively with the Commission. He further stated that the provisions of the Constitution mentioned in the President’s letter are not applicable in this context.

The CEC also mentioned that the delimitation of constituencies is one of the primary legal steps necessary for holding elections. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is taking this responsibility seriously and has invited major political parties to provide their input on the electoral map.

Despite expressing respect for the President’s office, the Commission believes that participation in the meeting would be of little consequence. The Presidency has sought advice from the law ministry regarding the CEC’s letter.

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