A snapshot of Punjab, KP elections saga

A snapshot of Punjab, KP elections saga


A snapshot of Punjab, KP elections saga

By Wajid Ali

Ever since Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan was ousted from the government through a no-confidence vote in April 2022, the deposed premier has only one demand -- snap elections across the country.

The incumbent government, on the other hand, stands firm. After a great deal of politicking, Imran Khan on Dec 17 announced a “final plan” to dissolve his party-led Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa legislatures. Eventually, he dissolved the Punjab Assembly on Jan 14, 2023 and the KP Assembly on Jan 18.

President Arif Alvi’s unilateral decision on elections date

After tumultuous activities and the Election Commission of Pakistan’s refusal to sit for consultation on the date for elections in the two assemblies, President Dr Arif Alvi on Monday (Feb 20) unilaterally announced that elections in the two assemblies would be held on April 9. He claims to have taken the decision under Section 57 (1) of Elections Act 2017.

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What Election Act 2017 says

57. Notification of Election Programme

(1) The President shall announce the date or dates of the general elections after consultation with the Commission.
(2) Notification of Election Programme

Within seven days of the announcement under sub-section (1), the Commission shall, by notification in the official Gazette and by publication on its website, call upon the voters of the notified Assembly constituencies to elect their representatives in accordance with an Election Programme…

58. Alteration in Election Programme

(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in section 57, the Commission may, at any time after the issue of the notification under sub-section (1) of that section, make such alterations in the Election Programme announced in that notification for the different stages of the election or may issue a fresh Election Programme as may, in its opinion to be recorded in writing, be necessary for the purposes of this Act: Provided that the Commission shall inform the President about any alteration in the Election Programme made under this sub-section.

(2) Save as otherwise provided by law, if a candidate has already submitted his nomination papers before the notification under sub-section (1), he PART I] THE GAZETTE OF PAKISTAN, EXTRA., OCTOBER 2, 2017 1465 shall not be required to again submit his nomination papers under the fresh Election Programme.

ECP’s stance on Alvi’s date announcement

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) says President Arif Alvi has no role in the announcement of dates of elections to provincial assemblies and the commission is aware of its constitutional obligation in this regard.

“According to Article 48(5) of the Constitution, where the National Assem-bly is dissolved by the President, he shall appoint a date for election and appoint a caretaker cabinet in accordance with the provision of Article 224 or as the case may be under Article 224-A. Similarly where a governor of a province dissolves a provincial assembly under Article 105(3)(a), he shall appoint a date for general elections to the assembly and shall appoint a caretaker cabinet,” Chief Election Commis¬sioner Sikandar Sultan Raja wrote to President Alvi in response to his recent letter.

The letter also objects to the language used by the president, as it says: “The office of president is the highest constitutional body and president is head of the state whereas all other constitutional and legal bodies are under constitutional obligation to offer utmost respect for the President office. We are sure that it is impartial and expect parental guidance from this prestigious office towards other constitutional bodies and expect that there will be better choice of words while addressing such other constitutional institutions.”

Cases in courts

The Supreme Court of Pakistan (SC) was moved for the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) elections. A plea was filed by Islamabad High Court Bar Association President Shoaib Shaheen in the apex court, which demanded that dates of elections of the Punjab and KP assemblies be announced.

Justice Jawad’s judgement

On Jan 10, Lahore High Court’s Justice Jawad Hassan ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold elections in the province in 90 days. Mr Hassan pronounced the reserved verdict on plea filed by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) seeking orders for the Punjab governor to immediately announce a date for an election in the province.

Justice Jawad Hassan accepted the PTI's petition and asked the electoral body to conduct the polls within the constitutional time limit. The court remarked that the ECP was bound to conduct the election in 90 days after the dissolution of assembly.

The court also instructed the ECP to promptly declare the date for the election of the provincial assembly with a notification that specifies the reasons behind the decision after consulting with the governor of Punjab, who is the province’s constitutional head.

Verdict welcomed

The verdict was welcomed by the PTI stalwarts and allies.

Taking to Twitter, PTI leader and former federal minister Fawad Chaudhry welcomed the “historic” ruling and said it was a victory for the Constitution and the law. “The federal government should sit with us and discuss the national election,” he added.

Senator Faisal Javed also welcomed the judgement, saying the people would make their decisions in the election.

Former Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi, while welcoming the decision, said the ECP should not delay the elections after the court ruling. He said the decision had raised the prestige of the judiciary, adding that the judiciary maintained the supremacy of the constitution.

PTI secretary general Asad Umar said the Lahore High Court's decision was a success of Pakistan's constitution and democracy.

What experts say about Arif Alvi’s announcement

Political analysts say President Dr Arif Alvi’s unilateral announcement of the date for holding election in the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies is challengeable in court.

Speaking to Dunya News, former caretaker Punjab chief minister and analyst Dr Hassan Askari said: "The Election Commission acted evasively it is clearly written in the constitution to hold elections within 90 days. But this matter will go to court and the judiciary will decide its fate.”

“Apparently, the President has referred to Section 57. Before the 18th Amendment, the President used to announce the date but after the Amendment, the Governor will announce the date,” said former ECP secretary Kanwar Dilshad.

He said the president had violated his oath, adding that the final decision over the election date would be taken by the Supreme Court.

Eminent analyst Mujibur Rahman Shami said the president announced the election date after consultation with the legal team but the matter, in all probability, would be taken to court. 


The president has finally announced the date for the two provincial assemblies' elections but his decision has thrown open a debate about the legal and administrative steps involved in the process. The case is likely to land in courts of law but how will it pan out, only time will tell.