Pakistan’s President Arif Alvi on Wednesday “proposed” to the country’s electoral authority that general elections be held in the first week of November to elect a new government for the next five years.
Despite being the Constitutional head of state, President Alvi used the word “proposed” in his letter to the head of the country’s top electoral body, amid an ongoing controversy between the President’s Office and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), with both claiming the right to announce the much-anticipated polls date.
However, the president acknowledged in his letter, citing the Law Ministry and all four provincial governments’ opinions that the announcement of the election date is the ECP mandate.
Currently, a caretaker government led by acting Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar is ruling the South Asian nuclear country following the dissolution of the lower house, known as the National Assembly, on Aug. 9.
The president dissolved the National Assembly on the advice of outgoing Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, clearing the way for a national vote within 90 days, as required by the Constitution.
However, the Council of Common Interests, a constitutional body made up of the prime minister and the chief ministers of all provinces, last month approved the controversial results of a new nationwide census, making it almost certain that elections will not be held on time.
Because of the hurried approval, the ECP will need at least four more months to notify new constituencies in the country in accordance with the latest census.
In this case, the elections cannot be held before February next year.
Moreover, the outgoing government, through an amendment in the election rules in June, empowered the ECP to independently announce the poll date.
The proposal, according to legal experts, however, has no Constitutional binding on the electoral authority.