Pak President under pressure to announce poll dates before leaving office
In a letter, PTI Secretary Omar Ayub Khan urging the President to announce the election date at the earliest
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan President Arif Alvi is under immense pressure from his political party too announce the date of the crucial general elections before he leaves office as his tenure ended on September 8.
According to Pakistan’s constitution, a President can remain in office even after his tenure ends until a new President is selected and replaces him.
This implies that Alvi can stay in office till the next elections and the corresponding process of selecting the next President via Parliament.
Sources in the Presidency said that Alvi is being directed by his political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and its jailed chief and former Prime Minister Imran Khan to use the constitutional power to announce the election dates.
In a letter, PTI Secretary Omar Ayub Khan urging the President to announce the election date at the earliest.
“Under Article 48(5) of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973, when the President dissolves the National Assembly, he is to appoint a date not later than 90 days from the date of dissolution for holding of general elections to the Assembly,” he added in the letter.
Besides the PTI and Imran Khan, Alvi is also under pressure from the military establishment, according to a source.
“President Alvi is under immense pressure from both the sides. PTI and Imran Khan messaging him indicates that the party wants him to announce the election date and practice his right as per the Constitution before leaving office. The other side (military establishment) has directed him to not do anything extravagant as per polls, because it would only create political uncertainty in the country. He is under immense pressure,” said the source.
Meanwhile, speculations are rife over President Alvi's final decision.
Alvi became the centre of controversy after he wrote letters to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the Ministry of Law for a consultation meeting to decide the date of elections.
The letters were responded both by the ECP and the Law Ministry, highlighting that the date of polls would be announced by poll bodyas it has been given the power and authority to do so after the recent parliamentary amendments in the Election Act, adding that it does not require consulting the President on the matter.
But after the decision of the Supreme Courton the elections in Punjab province, in which, it asserted that an act of Parliament cannot supersede or bypass the country’s constitution, which clearly states that elections are to be held within 90-days of the dissolution of the assembly.
This gave courage to the President as he could announce the date of elections as the country’s president and as per the country’s constitution.
However, a secret meeting of the top military chiefs and the President seemed to down play the intentions of the President an the polls dates.
The source said that President Alvi is still under serious pressure by Imran Khan to give a surprise to the military establishment by announcing the date of elections before leaving the presidency, assuring him that his decision would be defended by PTI as it would be as per the constitution.
On the other hand, he is also under clear directions by the military establishment to not opt to any misadventure of the sort.
Informed sources have also saidthat it is possible that Alvi might announce poll dates, which may be as per the tentative dates given by the ECP -- February 2024.
However, such an announcement would hurt Imran Khan and the PTI.
But it seems that the President intends to give the announcement in the coming days as he has had a meeting with the caretaker Federal Minister of Law and Justice Ahmed Irfan Aslam.
“The meeting between the government official and the president was part of the ongoing consultation regarding the general polls. The continuation of the consultation process with good intentions will prove to be productive for the democracy in the country,” read a statement from the President's House.
On the other hand, Alvi also faces criticism from the former ruling party Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz (PML-N), which has demands him to leave the post after completion of his term.
“Pack your bags and move to PTI secretariat because your desire is not just economic and political turmoil but also a constitutional crisisin the country,” said former Information Minister Marryum Aurangzeb.