Islamabad: Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa has asked the Election Commission (ECP) to work with President Arif Alvi to set a date for the general elections. The ECP’s lawyer informed the Supreme Court that the general elections are planned for February 11, 2024, resolving the uncertainty that had surrounded the election date for months.
This clarification came as the Supreme Court considered various petitions urging the fixing of the election date within the constitutional deadline of 90 days, which was due to end in early November. Originally, the elections were supposed to be held in November, but they were postponed due to the need to update the constituency boundaries based on a new census. In September, the ECP indicated that they would require until at least January to prepare for the polls.
The lawyer representing the ECP, Sajeel Swati, told the court that the delimitation of constituencies would be completed by November 30, and all arrangements would be finalized by January 29. He suggested that the elections should be held on Sunday, February 11.
Chief Justice Isa instructed the ECP to consult with President Arif Alvi and appear before the court the next day to confirm the election date, as required by the constitution. He emphasized that the Supreme Court would have the final say on the election date and wouldn’t entertain requests for extensions.
Recent amendments to the Election Act 2017 have granted the Election Commission the authority to announce election dates without the president’s involvement. However, legal experts argue that the president’s power to set election dates, as per Article 48(5) of the constitution, is independent and not subject to any other provision.
Currently, Pakistan is under the governance of a caretaker government led by interim Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, tasked with overseeing the general election. Despite the delay, the announcement of the election date is expected to reduce political uncertainty in the country, which is striving to stabilize its economy under a $3 billion IMF bailout plan.