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Supreme Court Decides February 8 for General Elections

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The Supreme Court of Pakistan has put an end to all legal pleas related to the timing of the general elections by declaring February 8, 2024, as the official date for the upcoming polls. This decision comes after the Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) and the lawyer representing the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) presented a consent letter from President Arif Alvi, affirming consensus between the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the Presidency on the February 8 date.

The ECP also submitted an official notification, stating, “The Election Commission of Pakistan in the exercise of its powers under Article 57(1) of the Elections Act and all other powers enabling it on that behalf, at this moment announces February 8, 2024, as the poll date for the general elections.” This declaration by the ECP solidified the decision.

Chief Justice Qazi Faiz Isa emphasized the importance of federal and provincial governments adhering to the electoral process without engaging in legal maneuvers. He urged the government to reinforce its commitment to upholding the democratic process. During the proceedings, Ali Zafar urged the court to include a statement declaring the elections as mandatory, pinpointing February 8 as the crucial date. In response, the Chief Justice reiterated that the elections would be held on time.

Justice Qazi Faiz Isa highlighted the unanimous agreement reached regarding the general elections taking place on February 8. He further sought assurances from ECP officials and their legal representatives regarding their ability to meet the scheduled elections and encouraged them to voice concerns in case of any obstacles promptly.

The court concluded the proceedings by disposing of all petitions related to holding general elections within 90 days.

The hearing also featured the submission of records of the conversation between President Arif Alvi and ECP Chief Election Commissioner Sultan Sikandar Raja. During this phase, Attorney General Mansoor Awan assured the court that the minutes of the meeting between the President and the ECP would be provided.

The Chief Justice inquired about the President’s signature on the document, which would indicate a consensus on the February 8 date for the general elections. The Attorney General clarified that the President had provided his consent letter separately, which the court would also be presented.

The court demonstrated its commitment to resolving the issue promptly. Justice Athar Minallah inquired whether the President had given a date for elections, to which Ali Zafar explained that, in his opinion, the President should give the date only after consulting the ECP. The Chief Justice then suggested that if the ECP did not consult the President, the date should be provided without delay.

During the hearing, the lawyer for the ECP mentioned that the process of delimitation of constituencies would be completed by November 30, with elections scheduled for February 11. The court expressed its concern over the ECP’s decision not to consult the President and ordered ECP officials to engage with the President regarding the election date.

Political parties, including the PTI, PPP, PML-N, MQM, JUI, and ANP, have reacted to the announcement of the election date, emphasizing the need for transparent and timely elections. The decision to hold the general elections on February 8 has been welcomed as a positive step to end uncertainty and ensure compliance with the Constitution.

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