Path To President Alvi Announcing Date For Elections Not So Clear

Sources in the President's House say the date for general elections was not part of the President Alvi-Law Minister confab

Path To President Alvi Announcing Date For Elections Not So Clear

President Dr Arif Alvi appears to be in two minds over announcing the date for upcoming elections after completing two rounds of talks with the caretaker federal government.

This came to light after Alvi held a second meeting in as many weeks with Caretaker Law and Justice Minister Ahmad Irfan Aslam.

An official communique from the President's House on Monday read that Aslam had called on Alvi on Monday.

In a statement issued by the President's House on Monday, Aslam called on Dr Alvi. During the meeting, the two held consultations on the general elections in the country. 

The statement said that Monday's meeting between the caretaker government and the President was part of the ongoing consultation on the general elections.

"The continuation of the consultation process with good intentions will prove to be productive for the democracy in the country," the statement quoted President Alvi as having remarked.

However, when asked if the election date or schedule was discussed, President Arif Alvi's Press Secretary and Information Advisor told The Friday Times that this was not part of the discussion.

Meanwhile, sources claimed that President Alvi had been categorically informed that after the recent amendments to the law, it was the mandate of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to announce a schedule for the general elections.

Informed sources said President Alvi is likely to go beyond his official legal advisor and the federal government to consult with legal brains within the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) before making up his mind on announcing a date for the elections.

In the current political scenario, sources said, President Alvi is a little confused about using this authority.

Last week, President Alvi held a similar meeting with Aslam where the elections were discussed, particularly the point of law that it was now the prerogative of the Election Commission (ECP) to issue a date for the elections, rather than the President, given recent amendments to the Election Act 2017.

The matter surfaced after President Arif Alvi had last month invited Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja for a consultation on the date of the general elections, given that all assemblies stood dissolved and caretakers were managing day-to-day affairs.

However, Raja snubbed President Alvi by pointing to the amendments in law which would empower the ECP to issue a date for elections, not the President. Hence, any meeting would be of "scant consequence".

Prior to his meeting with the law minister last week, rumours were rife that in the wake of the snub by the CEC, he would unilaterally announce a date for general elections.