Final date for Pakistan General Elections is here
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) initially announced that the general elections in Pakistan will take place on February 11, 2024, but was not finalized without consultation with the President Arif Alvi. This declaration follows a period of uncertainty and controversy surrounding the election date, with various parties and stakeholders advocating for different timelines.
In a hearing before the Supreme Court, ECP lawyer Sajeel Swati disclosed the decision to hold the general elections in Pakistan on February 11, 2024. The Supreme Court bench, presided over by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa and comprising Justices Athar Minallah and Amin-Ud-Din Khan, was convened to address the issue of conducting elections within 90 days of the dissolution of the assemblies.
The ECP lawyer explained that the delimitation process, which involves redrawing constituencies, would be completed by November 30, paving the way for the elections in February. Additionally, all preparations, including the finalization of constituencies, would be concluded by January 29, ensuring a smooth electoral process.
The decision to schedule the general elections in Pakistan for a Sunday, specifically on February 11, aims to facilitate higher voter participation. Under this plan, the first Sunday in February would have fallen on February 4, with the second Sunday on February 11, making it more accessible for the public to engage in the electoral process.
During the hearing, Chief Justice Isa raised the question of whether the ECP had consulted with President Arif Alvi regarding the election date. He directed the ECP to engage in discussions with the President, emphasizing that once the date is announced, the Supreme Court would consider it as a confirmed schedule. Justice Isa also underscored the court’s commitment to ensuring that the elections proceed as planned and that its decisions would be implemented.
And after ECP’s consultation with President Alvi, they agreed on a date of Feb 11, 2024 for the General Elections in pakistan
The journey to determine the election date in Pakistan has been marked by several twists and turns. The dissolution of the National Assembly by President Arif Alvi on August 10, 2023, on the advice of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, triggered the requirement for elections within 90 days. However, the approval of the 2023 digital census results on August 5, 2023, by the Council of Common Interests, led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, raised the possibility of a delay until February 2024.
President Alvi proposed November 6, 2023, as a potential election date on September 13, 2023, and advised the ECP to seek guidance from the Supreme Court for the announcement of the election date. However, it wasn’t until November 2, 2023, that the ECP formally confirmed February 11, 2024, as the date for the general election.
The decision holds significant implications for the major political parties in Pakistan, including the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led by former Prime Minister Imran Khan, the Pakistan Muslim League (N) (PML(N)) led by former Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) led by former Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. They will now have a clear timeline to strategize and campaign for the upcoming elections.
The ECP‘s announcement brings an end to months of ambiguity and speculation regarding the election schedule. While the National Assembly’s dissolution, three days before the end of its constitutional term, mandated elections within 90 days by November 7, Section 17(2) of the Elections Act stipulated the need for delimiting constituencies after every officially published census. This led to the delay as the ECP had to redraw boundaries in light of the recent census data.
The ECP’s decision aligns with the constitutional requirement, putting to rest speculations about a deliberate delay by the government. President Alvi’s earlier proposal, while valid, did not have the authority to set the election date, as clarified by the Ministry of Law and Justice. The Supreme Court’s involvement also underscored the importance of a transparent and well-considered election schedule.
Furthermore, the timing of this announcement coincides with negotiations between Pakistan and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the release of a USD 710 million second tranche of a USD 3 billion loan, aimed at stabilizing Pakistan’s debt-ridden economy. While the IMF has not explicitly linked the election date to the loan conditions, the clarity on the election schedule could potentially strengthen the Ministry of Finance’s position during these critical discussions.
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In summary, the Election Commission of Pakistan’s decision to hold the general elections in Pakistan on February 11, 2024, provides a definitive timeline for the political landscape in Pakistan. This announcement comes after a period of uncertainty and controversy, offering political parties and the nation as a whole a clear path forward in the electoral process.