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Business News/ News / World/  Pakistan to get new govt soon? President Alvi and EC agree on poll date after months of delay
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Pakistan to get new govt soon? President Alvi and EC agree on poll date after months of delay

Pakistan Elections Date: The Election Commission of Pakistan's counsel had earlier told the country's Supreme Court that the process of drawing constituencies would be completed by January 29, paving the way for the polls.

A general view of the Parliament House building in Islamabad, Pakistan April 10, 2022. (Reuters)Premium
A general view of the Parliament House building in Islamabad, Pakistan April 10, 2022. (Reuters)

Pakistan Election Commission and President President Arif Alvi agreed on February 8, 2024, as the date for holding general elections in the country, the President of Pakistan informed late Thursday.

Pakistan's Chief Election Commissioner of Pakistan (ECP) Sikandar Sultan Raja, along with Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan and four members of the Election Commission of Pakistan, met President Arif Alvi at the President's House. The meeting was held after the Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered the the commission to consult the President on the poll date.

Sharing an update after the key meet, the President of Pakistan posted on X: "In the meeting, the date for holding the next general elections in the country was discussed...After a detailed discussion, the meeting unanimously agreed to hold general elections in the country on February 8, 2024."

 

What's next now? Following the consensus, AGP Awan and CEC Raja will inform the top court about the decision on Friday, November 3.

Earlier in the day, the Pakistan Election Commission had proposed to hold general election on February 11 next year, Dawn reported. The report further quoted the Chief Justice of Pakistan as saying, “We will not allow the election date to be changed (once the poll dates are announced)."

Pakistan polls to be conducted after delimitation process

The general elections in Pakistan will be conducted after the process of delimitation is over. The Election Commission of Pakistan's (ECP) counsel, Sajeel Swati, said the process of drawing constituencies would be completed by January 29, paving the way for the polls.

“All arrangements including the drawing of constituencies will be completed by January 29," Swati was quoted by Dawn as saying, while adding that the final list of constituencies will be published on December 5.

The ECP's lawyer further informed that Election Commission was looking to hold the polls on Sunday "to make it easier for the people to participate in the elections", Geo TV reported. "We decided on our own that elections should be held on Sunday, February 11 (second Sunday of the month)," the lawyer said.

Demand for polls within 90 days

They key development in Pakistan's political scenario came as the Supreme Court of the country started hearing on Thursday a set of petitions calling for holding elections within 90 days after the dissolution of the National Assembly and the provincial legislatures. Pakistan President Arif Alvi dissolved the National Assembly on August 9.

Defying the 90-period deadline, the ECP decided against holding polls within the stipulated time as the Council of Common Interest (CCI) had approved the 7th Population and Housing Census 2023. Now, the elections are bound to happen after the completion of the delimitation process - with fresh delimitations in light of the results of the census.

Months of ambiguity

Pakistan's Election Commission's statement in the Supreme Court seems to have put an end to months-long uncertainty over the polls. The ECP had earlier ruled out polls this year citing the need for fresh delimitation of constituencies.

Last month, the commission announced that elections would be held in January 2024 but stopped short of announcing a date, report said.

Since the National Assembly was dissolved three days before the end of its constitutional term, Article 224 of the Constitution mandates that elections be held within 90 days of the dissolution of the assembly by November 7.

But at the same time, Section 17(2) of the Elections Act states that “the commission shall delimit constituencies after every census is officially published."

When the then Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif government dissolved the assembly, speculations were rife that he wants to delay the general elections in Pakistan. However, the government had denied it is dragging its feet, saying it is a constitutional requirement to hold elections under the latest census, the Guardian reported.

ALSO READ| Parliament panel urges government to establish economic ties with Pakistan

Earlier, President Alvi had written a letter to Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja on September 13 in which he proposed that elections be held by November 6. However, the Ministry of Law and Justice later informed Alvi that the powers to announce the poll date rested with the ECP, not the president.

During the hearing, Justice Minallah asked why it took the president so long to write the letter to the ECP. On the other hand, the chief justice noted that the text of the said letter was “vague". The CJP said that holding elections was good and “not a problem".

The recent announcement by the Pakistan President and the Election Commission coincides with the beginning of negotiations between Pakistan and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the release of USD 710 million second tranche of a $3 billion loan to the cash-strapped country to stabilise its debt-ridden economy. The clarity on the election date will strengthen the hands of the Ministry of Finance during the talks, although the IMF has not explicitly attached any such condition.

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Published: 02 Nov 2023, 04:00 PM IST
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