The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday announced that it has scheduled a meeting with political parties in October to discuss the code of conduct for elections, which it expects to hold in January, Pakistan-based Dawn reported.
In its statement, the ECP said the session was being held according to Section 233 of the Elections Act 2017. The meeting is scheduled to be held on October 4 at the ECP Secretariat in Islamabad. The meeting scheduled for October 4 follows separate meetings between the ECP and political parties on the electoral roadmap amid disagreements between political parties regarding the timeframe for polls.
The ECP said, "In this regard, a copy of the draft Code of Conduct has also been sent to the leaders of political parties so that they can provide their feedback during the consultation", according to a Dawn report.
As Pakistan's National Assembly was dissolved three days before the end of its constitutional term, elections must be within 90 days of the dissolution of the assembly by November 7 as per Article 224 of the Constitution. However, at the same time, Section 17(2) of the Elections Act states that "the commission shall delimit constituencies after every census is officially published."
In the last round of meetings held with the ECP, political parties took different stances regarding the timing for elections with some highlighting the need for fresh delimitation while others stressing for conducting elections within the constitutional time frame.
Earlier, in August, Pakistan President Arif Alvi invited Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja for a meeting to "fix an appropriate date" for general elections, the report said.
In his letter to the CEC, Alvi referred to Article 244 of the Constitution and said that he was duty-bound to get the elections conducted within the prescribed 90-day period after Pakistan's National Assembly was dissolved prematurely. However, a recent amendment to the Elections Act 2017 allowed the ECP to announce the dates for elections unilaterally without having to consult the president.
In response to the President's letter, CEC said participating in a meeting with him to decide the election date would be of "scant importance."
Pakistan President Alvi even sought the advice of the Law ministry in the matter. The ministry, however, told the president that the power to announce the date for elections lay with the Pakistan Election Commission.
Meanwhile, the country's caretaker Prime Minister, Anwaarul Haq Kakar, on September 15 said announcing the date for elections was beyond the mandate of the interim government, Dawn reported.
Addressing a press briefing after a high-level meeting at the PM House, Kakar ruled out the prospect of announcing the election date.
In response to a question, Kakar said, "If I were to announce elections, I would be engaging in an unlawful act, and as a journalist, If you steer us towards illegal actions and pose questions that might tempt us to break the law, what should my response be?" Kakar was quoted as saying in the Dawn report.
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)