ECP Likely To Consult Govt, Stakeholders Before Announcing Schedule Of Next Elections

ECP Likely To Consult Govt, Stakeholders Before Announcing Schedule Of Next Elections
For the first time in the parliamentary history of Pakistan, the top electoral body of the country will be announcing the schedule for the upcoming general elections in the country. For this purpose, the body will hold meeting with all relevant stakeholders to finalize the schedule.

Before the recent amendments to the law, the prerogative of announcing the date of general elections was enjoyed solely by the president of Pakistan in consultation with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

The reason behind the 'Election (Amendment) Act 2023', a legislation passed by both houses of parliament, was to avoid giving an opportunity to the president to use this 'weapon' before he completes his tenure, background discussions with government members revealed.

President Dr Arif Alvi's term is set to complete in September 2023. At this juncture, the ruling coalition wants to avoid any political unrest the way President Alvi had earlier unilaterally set a date for holding elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

Earlier this year, President Arif Alvi had unilaterally announced to hold elections for the dissolved assembly in Punjab, the country's most populous province, on April 30, 2023.

A few days before his announcement about Punjab, President Alvi had bypassed the election commission to unilaterally announce elections in both Punjab and KP on April 9.

But the government managed to ignore these directives, and elections could not be held in the two provinces.

Sources claim that coalition partners of the government in the 'ongoing political huddle' in Dubai will thoroughly deliberate on the elections' schedule in the country besides discussing seat adjustments in different constituencies and who will be the next prime minister and president of the country.

On the elections' schedule, sources asserted that the country's top electoral body would also hold an important meeting with the government's concerned entities to discuss responsibilities for announcing the schedule of general elections.

It is important to note here that 'Election (Amendment) Act 2023', amends Section 57(1) of the Elections Act read:

"The commission shall announce the date or dates of the general elections by notification in the official gazette and shall call upon the constituencies to elect their representatives."

Another amendment related to Section 58 reads:

"Notwithstanding anything contained in Section 57, the commission may at any time after the issuance of notification under subsection (1) of that section make such alterations in the election programme announced in that notification for the different stages of the election or may issue a fresh election programme with a fresh poll date(s) as may in its opinion to be recorded in writing be necessary for the purposes of this Act."