8 February 2023
By Hania Khan
Irfan Qadir, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister of Pakistan (SAPM) on Legal Reforms has said that the decision to announce the provincial assembly elections date does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Governor, but instead lies with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
Qadir clarified the decision-making process for the elections’ date while speaking on the Aaj TV show, ‘Spot Light with Munizae Jahangir‘.
He added that the ECP must make the decision while keeping in mind the spirit of the constitution and that “the courts should have no role to play here.”
Under the Constitution of Pakistan, the provincial assembly elections must be held within 90 days of the dissolution of the provincial assembly. Qadir specified that there were three types of assembly dissolutions that could occur. However, there was never such a situation when the Governor announced the date and this was neither possible in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) nor in Punjab. Instead, the date must be announced by the ECP within 90 days of the dissolution of the assembly, a formula that applies to both KP and Punjab assemblies.
Qadir expressed his support for holding the provincial elections in conjunction with the federal elections, which only have a gap of around three months. In contrast, Senator Aown Abbas raised concerns over the delay of the elections and questioned the capability of the governor to run a whole province on their own, without the support of a provincial assembly.
Qadir emphasized the importance of following the spirit of the constitution when announcing the date for the provincial assembly elections. He said that the point of the elections was to ensure that there was no interim government or caretaker setup – the ECP must prioritize this spirit while making the decision and avoid any constitutional violations.
“It is imperative for the ECP to make a clear and well-informed decision, as the provincial assembly elections play a crucial role in shaping the political landscape of Pakistan,” said Qadir. “The elections are an opportunity for the citizens to exercise their democratic right to choose their representatives and shape the future of their provinces. However, the ECP must ensure that the elections are held in a fair, transparent, and impartial manner, in line with the constitution and the spirit of democracy.”
While Qadir says that the elections should take place altogether in November 2023, Aown Abbas maintains that it is their legal right to have the elections at the end of the constitutionally decided 90-day period.