President concerned over legality of caretaker govts beyond 90 days

ISLAMABAD, A PR 20 : President Dr Arif Alvi on Thursday sent to the prime minister a letter of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Chaudhry Fawad Ahmed asking him to look into the issues raised by the former federal minister to uphold the Constitution and strengthen democracy in the country.

In his letter to the president, Fawad raised issues with regard to the legality of the interim setups in the two provinces of the country.

He said that the interim governments in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa had completed their stipulated period and the Constitution did not provide for the continuation extension of the period fixed for the interim setup.

Fawad had further stated that caretaker governments were introduced as per Article 224 of the Constitution to facilitate the Election Commission of Pakistan in holding free, fair, just, and honest elections in accordance with the Constitution and the law.

In his letter, President Dr Arif Alvi asked Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to examine the matter to ensure the upholding of the Constitution and strengthening of democracy in Pakistan.

The development comes as the country is going through a constitutional crisis regarding the holding of the elections. PTI wants to hold general elections for all the national and provincial assemblies simultaneously across the country as soon as possible but the federal government is adamant to hold them on their scheduled time.

On Tuesday, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) expressed serious reservations over holding of Punjab Assembly elections on May 14, warning that “anarchy and chaos” can breakout in the country if its itinerary for polls is not followed. The ECP had earlier announced date for the polls in the province on October 8.

On March 22, the ECP delayed the provincial assembly election in the politically-crucial Punjab province by more than five months, citing a deteriorating security situation in the cash-starved country.

In its report submitted to the Supreme Court, the electoral body said it will not be possible for the ECP to ensure “honest, just, fair and peaceful election to the provincial Assembly of Punjab” in view of the charged political environment and reports by relevant stake holders including security agencies and the provincial government.

Earlier today, Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial requested political leaders to hold negotiations after the Supreme Court resumed hearing a petition seeking to hold general elections for all the national and provincial assemblies simultaneously across the country.

The CJP said that there could be no obstinacy in negotiations and that consensus could be built through bilateral talks.

The top judge requested that leaders of political parties meet today and negotiate, rather than after Eid. He further said that elections could be held in July after Eid.

The hearing was then adjourned till 4 pm. However, as expected, no dialogue took place between the highly-polarised political parties.

Subsequently, the hearing was adjourned till April 27 as the Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Awan and PPP lawyer Farooq H Naek met Justice Bandial in his chamber, seeking more time to hold dialogue with the opposition PTI to evolve consensus on the matter.

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