The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced that the Senate elections could be held in February as the government is planning.
Last week the ruling Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) planned on holding the election for the upper house of the Parliament in February as opposed to 4th or 5th of March when the Senate elections have been traditionally held.
Article 224 (3) of the Constitution reads: “An election to fill the seats in the Senate which are to become vacant on the expiration of the term of the members of the Senate shall be held not earlier than thirty days immediately preceding the day on which the vacancies are due to occur,” allowing the government to hold elections as early as February 11.
Half of the upper house, 52 of the 104 members of the Senate, is set to retire on March 11.
The confirmation of the ECP comes at the point where the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) was hoping to delay the Senate polls to create a constitutional crisis for the PTI.
Speaking to the media, leader of the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) Maryam Nawaz commented that the Prime Minister could not decide the date of the elections, and such intervention into the jurisdiction of institutions is weakening the state for the short term benefit of the ruling party. “You became a self-proclaimed FIA (Federal Investigation Agency) chairman, you became a self-proclaimed FBR (Federal Board of Revenue) chairman, and now you want to become the chairman of the election commission,” Maryam said.
Similarly, the former secretary ECP Kunwar Dilshad commented on the issue that the government does not have the constitutional prerogative to suggest that the ECP change the Senate election dates, and the decision lies solely with the ECP. “The country’s law specifies that Senate elections are to be held between February 11 and March 11,” he remarked in a media briefing.
The Senate polls can be held on February 11, but the decision to do rests with the ECP. If the ECP decides to move ahead with the decision, then the PDM is in hot waters as it would have to even less time to create a crisis to delay the Senate elections.