On Wednesday, President Dr. Arif Alvi suggested November 6 as the date for Pakistan’s general elections in a letter addressed to Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja. In the letter, President Alvi referenced Article 48(5) of the Constitution, which empowers the president to set an election date within 90 days of the National Assembly’s dissolution, which occurred on August 9. Accordingly, he proposed holding the general election on Monday, November 6, 2023.
However, there is a difference of opinion among stakeholders on this matter. The Chief Election Commissioner and the federal law ministry argue that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) should decide the election date, especially considering the ongoing delimitation of constituencies following the publication of the most recent census on August 7, 2023.
The provincial governments and political parties also support the ECP’s role in determining the election date. President Alvi acknowledges the importance of constitutional and legal procedures for organizing fair elections and suggests that the ECP consult with provincial governments and political parties while possibly seeking guidance from the judiciary on announcing a single date for both national and provincial assembly elections.
This situation has raised concerns of a potential constitutional crisis in Pakistan, with President Alvi’s legal team and the Attorney General stating that he no longer has the authority to announce election dates following amendments to the Election Act.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), President Alvi’s party, insists on an immediate election date announcement, while the Caretaker Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Murtaza Solangi, emphasizes that the ECP is responsible for conducting free, fair, and transparent elections, with the delimitation process being a necessary prerequisite. Solangi also notes that political parties will have 54 days for election campaigning once the constituency boundaries are redrawn.
It’s worth noting that President Arif Alvi’s five-year term as Pakistan’s president ended on a previous date, and this development regarding the election date is a separate issue from his presidential tenure.