KP governor urges ECP to consider law and order before deciding election date
February 1, 2023
PESHAWAR: The governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Haji Ghulam Ali, has issued a letter to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) regarding the timing of the general elections in the province.
In the letter, dated January 31, the governor advised the ECP to consult with political parties and relevant stakeholders before determining the election date, due to the “alarming law and order situation.”
“In view of the alarming law and order situation in the province and series of terrorist attacks during the past days, it would be advisable that before fixing a date for the general elections, the ECP should consult and take into confidence the relevant institutions/LEAs [law enforcement agencies] as well as political parties, to ensure that conduct of general elections in a fair, free and peaceful manner in the province is possible,” the letter, addressed to the Chief Election Commissioner Sikander Sultan Raja, said.
The provincial assembly was dissolved on January 18 and the ECP proposed April 15 to 17 as the election dates, but Governor Ali wants to ensure the fair, free and peaceful conduct of the elections.
Caretaker Chief Minister Azam Khan, however, dismissed the notion of delaying the elections due to the current state of security.
A day earlier, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) approached the Peshawar High Court (PHC) to challenge the rumoured delay in the announcement of the election date for the provincial assembly.
The PTI requested the court to direct the governor to act according to the Constitution.
The petition was filed by senior lawyer Muhammad Muazzam Butt and was accompanied by former provincial ministers and leaders of the PTI, including Mohammad Atif Khan, Shaukat Yousafzai, and Shahram Khan Tarakai.
The petition prayed to declare the governor’s assertion of delaying the elections as unconstitutional and illegal.
The petition pointed out that the KP chief minister had recommended the dissolution of the provincial assembly on January 17, and the governor had ordered the dissolution on January 18. The ECP informed the governor that a general election must be held within 90 days from the date of dissolution, and the governor was mandated to fix a date for the elections, in consultation with the commission.
The ECP had requested the governor to fix the date of polling between April 15 and 17, and the period of 90 days started on January 18, which means the election day may not be later than April 17.
However, despite the ECP’s request on January 24, the governor was yet to fulfil his constitutional obligation.
The petition added that the ECP was to announce the election program within seven days of the announcement of the election date, as per the Elections Act.
The PTI expressed regret over the governor’s inaction and requested the PHC to take immediate action.