ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has excused itself from speaking with President Arif Alvi about elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at this time, claiming that the topic is already being reviewed by the judiciary.

Earlier this week, President Alvi called the election commissioner for a “urgent meeting” on February 20 (Monday) to discuss the election’s timing, berating him for the ECP’s “poignant attitude.”

ECP has now said that it may not be able to engage in a process of consultation with the office of the president owing to the “issue being subjudice at several judicial fora” and a number of other factors after criticising the president’s “choice of language” in the letter.

According to a letter from the ECP secretary to the president’s secretary, the electoral body is fully aware of its legal and constitutional responsibilities.

It remarked, “It is relevant to highlight that Article 105 read with Article 112 of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 Constitution specifies the mechanism for allocation of poll date in event of dissolution of the provincial assembly.

After the dissolution of the legislatures in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the ECP contacted the governors of both provinces to choose a date for the elections, the ECP secretary notified the president’s office. The governors of Punjab and KP, he said, had replied to the letters but had not yet provided a deadline.

In response to the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) directive regarding the date of the Punjab election, the letter noted that the ECP had consulted with Punjab Baligh ur Rehman in accordance with the orders, but that he had stated his intention to file a lawsuit in opposition to the ruling because “it was not binding on him.”

The ECP secretary informed the president’s office that the commission had appealed the high court’s decision in a separate intracourt appeal “on the ground that the process of consultation with the Governor is not provided in the Constitution” and had requested additional guidance from the court through a miscellaneous plea.

Moreover, he noted, three writ petitions seeking instructions for setting a date for general elections in KP have also been submitted to the Peshawar High Court.

It was said in the letter that “it is clarified that the Constitution does not authorise the Election Commission to designate a poll date in event of a provincial Assembly being dissolved by the Governor or owing to the passage of time, as specified in Article 112(1) of the Constitution.”

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