ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has insisted on not participating in an emergency meeting called by President Dr Arif Alvi to discuss elections.
Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja made the final decision on Monday at a consultative meeting attended by senior ECP officials. Various aspects were discussed at the meeting to decide whether election officials should accept the invitation to the presidential meeting.
The ECP argued that it could not attend the meeting because matters related to the elections in Punjab and Khyber Puktunkhwa provinces were being heard in courts across the country.
Elections in both provinces were uncertain amid reluctance by the top electoral body and the governor to announce a poll date, and parliaments were dissolved last January. Earlier this month, the Lahore High Court (LHC) ordered the ECP to consult with Punjab governor Baligur Rehman and announce the election date. It also stipulates that the vote should be held within 90 days.
After no headway in the ECP and governor meeting took place, President Alvi sent a letter to the electoral body, inviting the CEC to a meeting to discuss elections.
In reply, the ECP sent a letter to the president on Sunday, stating that “the commission may not be able to enter into a process of consultation with the presidency as the matter was subjudice at various judicial fora.” The ECP letter, bearing the signatures of ECP Secretary Omar Hamid Khan, stated the final decision would be taken on Monday.
It noted that the Constitution did not empower the ECP to fix a date for a general election to an assembly in case of dissolution. The ECP pointed out that after dissolution of both provincial assemblies, the commission approached governors of both provinces for appointment of a date for elections.
The letter insisted that the ECP delegation approached the Punjab governor to specify a date for the poll, but the governor refused to provide a date for the election. The letter concluded that the committee has the utmost respect for the Office of the President.