President Alvi Urges PM Shehbaz Sharif to Instruct Federal and Provincial Authorities to Aid ECP in Conducting Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Elections per Supreme Court Orders to Prevent Further Complications
Two days after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) postponed the Punjab Assembly elections to October 8 due to a “deteriorating security situation,” President Dr. Arif Alvi sent a letter to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif asking him to ensure the implementation of the Supreme Court’s orders to prevent further complications.
In the letter, President Alvi mentioned the use of disproportionate force by authorities against politicians, political workers, and journalists, along with the provincial polls.
He stressed that the prime minister was responsible for safeguarding human and fundamental rights of citizens, and all concerned executive authorities of federal and provincial governments should assist the ECP in holding general elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa within the timeframe set by the Supreme Court’s order dated March 1, to avoid further complications, including contempt of court.
The apex court had ruled on March 1 that elections for the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies should be held within 90 days, allowing the ECP to propose a poll date that deviates from the deadline by the “barest minimum” in case of any practical difficulty.
President Alvi’s letter revealed that the ECP had approached relevant departments regarding holding elections, but it appeared that the federal and caretaker governments in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had advised the heads of concerned departments to indicate their inability to provide necessary support for holding general elections.
Citing Article 220 of the Constitution, which states that executive authorities are duty-bound to assist the ECP in discharging its functions, President Alvi said that executive authorities and government departments had committed a “flagrant violation of the Constitution.”
He further said that the ECP had not implemented his earlier announcement of April 30 as the date for Punjab polls and had “blatantly violated” the Supreme Court’s March 1 order.
Citing Article 46 of the Constitution, which states that the prime minister will keep the president informed on all policy matters and legislative proposals by the federal government, President Alvi expressed concern that no meaningful consultation had been undertaken with him on policy issues by the prime minister.
Glaring Violations of Fundamental and Human Rights Uncovered
President Alvi Alerts PM to Glaring Violations of Fundamental and Human Rights.
President Alvi has written to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to draw his attention to incidents of “glaring violations of fundamental and human rights” committed in Pakistan. The letter called on the PM to take remedial measures and preventive actions to address the matter.
The letter highlighted the atrocities of police and law enforcement agencies, including the disproportionate use of force against citizens.
It also raised concerns over the registration of fake and frivolous cases against politicians, workers, journalists, and media persons.
The president noted that citizens had been abducted without warrants and lawful justification, and that the state machinery had committed clear breaches and violations of fundamental rights guaranteed by Article 4 of the Constitution.
The letter further stated that the country’s international image had been tarnished due to these incidents and that numerous constitutional provisions on fundamental rights were being transgressed.
The president also mentioned that Pakistan had dropped 12 points down in the World Press Freedom Index 2022, which reflected the country’s “sorry state of affairs”.
The president criticized the government’s treatment of the media, stating that journalists had been subjected to charges of sedition and terrorism to stifle dissent and criticism.
He added that it appeared that a “reign of terror” had been unleashed against media persons who had independent opinions.
In response to the president’s letter, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah issued a strongly worded statement, urging the president to “stay within his limits and constitutional bounds” instead of becoming a “puppet”.
He called on the president to hold Imran accountable for the PTI government’s track record regarding human rights violations and suppression of the media.
“KP Governor Suggests Postponing Polls to October 8”
KP Governor Haji Ghulam Ali wrote a letter to Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja, suggesting that the polls for the province be delayed until October 8 due to the increase in terrorist activity.
The governor had previously set May 28 as the date for the elections but later retracted his decision, citing the need to address “key challenges” before announcing a new date.
In the letter, the governor pointed out that the Punjab polls had been postponed, and a new election schedule was to be issued.
He stated that since his last letter, there had been a “fresh wave of terrorist activities” taking place on a daily basis in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, citing several terrorist incidents, including the recent martyrdom of an Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) brigadier during an encounter with “hardcore terrorists” in South Waziristan’s Angoor Adda.
The governor proposed that the election date for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa be set for October 8, 2023, stating that it would be in the best interest of the public and the state.
He suggested that since the ECP had already postponed the election date for the general elections of Punjab province to October 8, it would be suitable to appoint the same date for the general elections of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) delays Punjab polls
On Wednesday night, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) issued an order stating that it had held a meeting on March 10 with intelligence and security officials from Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
During the meeting, the officials apprised the commission of their inability to assist with conducting the elections and warned of the possibility of election officials being kidnapped during the polls.
They recommended that the elections not be held at the present time.
The order further stated that on March 14, the ECP was informed that the Pakistan Army would not be available for poll-related duties due to the prevailing security situation.
The ECP order referred to the briefings on the overall security situation in the country and stated that there was a massive shortfall in police personnel, with only one security man on average available per polling station.
Additionally, the non-provision of army personnel as a static force further complicated the situation.
After considering the reports, briefing, and material presented before it, the commission reached the just conclusion that it was not possible to hold and organize the elections honestly, justly, fairly, and in a peaceful manner in accordance with the Constitution and the law