Alvi writes letter to PM: ‘Assist ECP to hold polls in Punjab, KP as per SC order’
President Arif Alvi on Thursday wrote a letter to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to assist the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold general elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa within the timeframe in compliance of Supreme Court’s Order dated March 1st, 2023, to avoid further complications including contempt of court.
He urged premier Shehbaz Sharif that all ‘executive authorities’ of federal and provincial governments should refrain from abuse of human rights and also
President Alvi said events have taken place in the recent past highlighted by the print, electronic and social media about glaring violations of fundamental and human rights that need to be brought to your notice to ensure remedial measures and preventive action.
Read Also: PTI to move SC against ECP’s postponement of Punjab poll
“Your attention is drawn towards the seriousness of these incidents of Human Rights violations, atrocities of police/law enforcement agencies and grossly disproportionate use of force against the citizens of Pakistan. Multiple fake and frivolous cases have been registered against politicians, workers, journalists and media persons. Houses of political workers have been raided and citizens abducted without warrants and lawful justification,” Alvi said.
The letter reads, “The incidents of Human Rights violations and oppression by state machinery against innocent citizens are in clear breach and violations of Fundamental Rights guaranteed by Article 4 of the Constitution that provides for, and guarantees citizens to enjoy the protection of law and to be treated in accordance with the law.”
Fundamental rights violations
The Chapter on Fundamental Rights elaborates in Article 9 on ‘security of person’, Article 10 on ‘safeguards as to arrest and detention’, Article 10-A on ‘right to fair trial’, Article 14 on ‘inviolability of dignity of man etc.’, Article 15 on ‘freedom of movement etc.’, Article 16 on ‘freedom of assembly’, Article 17 on ‘freedom of association’ and Article 19 on ‘freedom of speech’.
The spirit and mandate of all the above articles are being clearly transgressed. This has tarnished the image of Pakistan in the international community and is casting negative repercussions on the future of democracy and state of Human Rights in Pakistan.
World Press Freedom Index
In World Press Freedom Index of 2021, Pakistan ranked 145 out of 180 countries and dropped to 157 i.e. 12 points downwards in the World Press Freedom Index, 2022, which reflects sorry state of affairs and this year’s actions and images thereof will further exacerbate our already dismal ranking. In recent months, Media has been further suppressed and journalists have also been subjected to charges of sedition and terrorism to stifle dissent and criticism against the government. It appears that a reign of terror has been unleashed against the media persons who have independent opinions.
Read Also: ECP postpones Punjab Assembly polls to Oct 8
The Preamble/Objectives Resolution, which is part of the Constitution under Article 2-A, provides that ‘the State shall exercise its power and authority through the chosen representatives of the people’. Elections of Provincial Assemblies, in case of their dissolution under Article 105 or Article 112, are required to be held within 90 days under Article 224 (2) of the Constitution. The Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan vide its Order dated 1st March, 2023 directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to propose date (s) to the President for holding the poll within 90 days, or on a date that deviates to barest minimum from aforesaid deadline.
SC orders to hold elections
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor was also directed by the Supreme Court to select a date for holding the general election for Provincial Assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as per the above timeframe.
Subsequently, ECP proposed holding of general elections between 30th April — 7th May, 2023.
“I announced that general elections for the Provincial Assembly of Punjab will be held on 30th April, 2023 and the same was notified by the ECP,” President Alvi said.
The ECP called the concerned departments of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in connection with arrangements for holding general elections in both the provinces.
It appears federal and care-taker governments in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa advised the heads of concerned departments to indicate their inability to provide necessary support for holding general elections.
Article 220 of the Constitution maintained, “it shall be the duty of all executive authorities in the Federation and in the Provinces to assist the Commissioner and the Election Commission in the discharge of his or their functions.”
‘ECP violates my orders’
“Therefore, in my opinion, flagrant violation of the Constitution has been committed by the executive authorities and government departments. The ECP has not implemented my announcement of holding general elections in Punjab on 30th April, 2023 and also blatantly violated the Supreme Court’s Order dated lst March, 2023. The ECP has announced the date of 8th October, 2023 for holding general elections of provincial assemblies of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” President Alvi said.
Article 46 of the Constitution provides that Prime Minister shall keep the President informed on all matters of internal and foreign policy and on all legislative proposals the federal government intends to bring before the Parliament.
Rule 15(5) of Rules of Business, 1973 further highlights the responsibility of the Prime Minister, inter-alia, to furnish such information relating to the administration of affairs of the Federation and proposals for legislation as the President may call for…; It is a matter of concern that no meaningful consultation with the President on policy issues has been undertaken by the Prime Minister in line with the above Article.
He said Prime Minister, being head of government, is responsible for the safeguard of human rights as well as fundamental rights of every citizen of Pakistan as enshrined in the Constitution as mentioned above.
PMLN, PPP ministers ‘blast’ President’s stance on polls
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said President Alvi should remain in his Constitutional limit.
He questioned President Alvi’s stance on human rights when PTI government in power made false cases against the then opposition. Rana Sanaullah said, “They made 15 kg fake heroine case against me. I am asking the President why he did not take up the human rights issue when fake case was made against me.”
PPP leader and BISP Chairperson Shazia Marri also criticised President Alvi’s stance on letter and commented President Alvi did not speak a work on the gross human rights violations by the PTI government against the then opposition.
Former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani said PPP has not run away from the elections and would remain in the field.
Gillani opined that national and provincial assembly elections should be held at once. . He claimed federation will suffer, if elections are not held same day.
Former premier said conducting elections is the responsibility of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
KP governor advises ECP to hold KP polls on Oct 8
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Ghulam Ali has urged the Chief Election Commissioner to conduct general elections in the province on October 8. In a letter to the Commissioner, the Governor cited the postponement of Punjab’s elections to October 8 and argued that it would be appropriate for KP to hold its elections on the same date.
The Governor’s letter also highlighted the increasing incidence of terrorism in the province. In recent days, there have been reports of cross-border firing in South Waziristan, an attack on an army vehicle in Kohat, a clash with terrorists in South Waziristan, and attacks on police stations in Bara and DI Khan. These incidents have resulted in the martyrdom of three soldiers and an attack on Brigadier Mustafa Kamal Barki’s convoy.
Given the worsening security situation in KP, Governor Ghulam Ali’s proposal to hold elections on October 8 is seen as a way to ensure that the election process is carried out in a peaceful and secure manner. The proposal will now be considered by the Election Commission, which will decide on the date for holding the general elections in KP.