- Law ministers say decision of polls’ date sole competence of ECP.
- Ministers urge general polls for NA, provinces be held on same day.
- Interim law minister meets president for third time in two weeks.
ISLAMABAD: The federal and provincial law ministers Wednesday unanimously urged all organs of the state to respect the autonomy and authority of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in carrying out the delimitation of constituencies and determining the election schedule.
This statement by the law ministers was conveyed via a press release today following a meeting chaired by caretaker Law and Justice Minister Ahmad Irfan Aslam in Islamabad.
The meeting — attended by provincial law ministers Kanwar Dilshad (Punjab), Muhammad Omer Soomro (Sindh), Arshad Hussain Shah (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and Amanullah Kanrani (Balochistan) — was held to discuss matters pertaining to the upcoming general elections to the National and provincial assemblies.
It concluded after the huddle determined that the conduct of general elections and announcement of election dates is the sole competence of the country’s electoral authority, as per the Constitution.
“The Election Commission of Pakistan is an independent constitutional body,” the statement, issued by the ministry, read.
The statement by the law ministry comes a day after caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, too, issued a similar statement in the wake of speculations regarding the announcement of the election date by President Dr Arif Alvi.
The president, during his second meeting with the interim federal law minister in 10 days on Monday, discussed the matter of the election schedule. He was reportedly expected to announce the date of the election.
However, sources within the Presidential Palace claimed that the idea of Dr Alvi’s likelihood of appointing a date is “wrong” as the deliberation on the matter of polls is still underway.
Meanwhile, during the meeting held at the law ministry today, all law ministers also underscored the importance of upholding the principles of democracy and ensuring the smooth conduct of elections.
It was unanimously agreed that the Constitution must be read as a whole and none of its provisions must be read in isolation of other relevant provisions.
The provincial law ministers also emphasised that in order to strengthen the federation, to ensure harmony amongst all federating units and avoid unnecessary financial burden on the national exchequer incurred owing to provision of security arrangements on different election dates, the general elections to the national and the four provincial assemblies must be held on the same day.
“The discussion highlighted the government’s commitment to ensuring free, fair and transparent elections in Pakistan, adhering to the principles of democratic governance,” the statement mentioned.
The federal and provincial governments remain dedicated towards promoting a democratic and inclusive electoral environment, it added.
Law minister meets President Alvi
Meanwhile, sources told Geo News about a meeting between President Alvi and interim minister Irfan today — their third interaction within two weeks.
According to the sources, the matter of the election date came under discussion during this meeting.
Irfan, during the meeting, apprised the president about the position of all the interim provincial ministers regarding the date of polls in the country.