Chief Election Commissioner denies meeting request from President

Election Commission denies meeting with President; constitutional implications emerge

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In a twist that has caught the attention of political observers, the Election Commission has delivered a response to the President, declining a requested meeting. This development has ignited a legal debate, prompting the President’s House to seek a constitutional opinion from the Ministry of Law and Justice. The exchange underscores the intricate power dynamics surrounding the election process and constitutional responsibilities.

In a formal letter addressed to President Dr. Arif Alvi, the Election Commission conveyed its decision not to engage in a meeting at this time. The response emphasized the Election Commission’s authority, highlighting the amendments made to Section 57 of the Election Act. The Commission clarified that, as per Article 58-2 of the Constitution, the prerogative to set the election date lies primarily with the Election Commission when the National Assembly is dissolved on the Prime Minister’s advice.

The Election Commission’s reply letter meticulously detailed the legal framework underpinning its stance. It clarified that after the dissolution of the National Assembly, as recommended by the Prime Minister, the President’s authority under Article 48(5) becomes limited. The Election Commission is resolute in its commitment to fulfilling its role in overseeing the electoral process, a responsibility it takes very seriously.

The reply letter also expressed respect for the office of the President, acknowledging the honor of potential future meetings and the significance of the President’s guidance on national matters. However, it hinted at a tempered expectation from the proposed meeting, suggesting that the outcome might be marginal in nature.

As the dialogue between the Election Commission and the President unfolds, the President’s House sought clarity from the Ministry of Law and Justice on the constitutional aspects of the response. This move highlights the constitutional intricacies at play and the need for legal interpretation to ascertain the limits of the Election Commission’s powers in determining election dates.

The backdrop to this scenario lies in a letter issued by President Dr. Arif Alvi, inviting the Chief Election Commissioner for a meeting to decide on the date for the upcoming general elections. This letter was grounded in the President’s constitutional obligation, as per Article 48 (5), to finalize an election date within 90 days following the dissolution of the National Assembly.

While the intricate constitutional interplay continues, the refusal of the Election Commission to meet the President has introduced a layer of complexity into Pakistan’s political landscape, generating discourse on the boundaries of power and the interpretation of constitutional mandates.

Shaheer Gul Khan is a final-year student of English Literature at Government College University (GCU) Lahore. Strives to create a challenging and engaging environment having editor skills in freelancing, a goal-oriented. He can be reached at Twitter @HafizShaheerGu1.