Usman Danish

A petition has been lodged with the Peshawar High Court decrying the postponement of the general elections. The petition argues that failing to hold elections within the stipulated timeframe constitutes a breach of the Pakistani Constitution and defies the Supreme Court’s directive. The primary responsibility of the Election Commission is to ensure the execution of punctual and transparent elections, without any capacity to postpone them.

Amidst the dissolution of the National Assembly, speculations have emerged regarding the election schedule. While political leaders assert that the elections won’t occur in 2023, the Election Commission recently issued a press release contending that the election cannot be held within three months and will transpire only following constituency completion.

Naeem Ahmed Khattak, who lodged the petition, contends that it is unlawful for the Election Commission of Pakistan to evade holding nationwide general elections within three months and release declarations to that effect.

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The petition contends that on August 17, 2023, the Election Commission issued a press release, asserting that constituency processes have already begun and will extend till December 2023. This timeframe makes holding elections within three months implausible. However, this stance contravenes the constitution’s requirement to hold elections within 90 days of the assembly’s dissolution. The recent press release by the Election Commission is unconstitutional. Furthermore, the Commission’s assertion that elections cannot occur within 90 days is in defiance of the Supreme Court’s ruling.

The petition posits that the election is being deliberately delayed, potentially due to certain entities aiming to subvert this constitutional process.

Ali Azeem Afridi, the lawyer representing the case in the Peshawar High Court, conveyed that Pakistan’s constitution mandates elections within 90 days of the assembly’s dissolution. The Constitution’s stipulation precludes any delay. The Supreme Court has also unequivocally determined that the Election Commission lacks the authority to postpone elections. The Election Commission cannot unilaterally defer elections; its role is to promptly oversee transparent elections when the assembly dissolves or completes its term.

Afridi emphasized that the Election Commission’s function does not encompass a passive approach, waiting until the assembly is dissolved or the term ends to initiate election preparations. The Commission’s inactivity during this period is unjustified. Extensive workshops have been conducted, and staff has been recruited for the elections. Funds have been allocated to the Commission, and additional resources have been furnished to ensure timely election preparation.

He affirmed that the Election Commission does not possess the power to delay elections. Their sole responsibility is to orchestrate elections that are both timely and transparent.

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