President Arif Alvi writes a strong worded letter to PM Shehbaz over current political scenario in Pakistan

President Dr Arif Alvi Friday penned a letter to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, emphasising that all concerned executive authorities of the federal and provincial governments should be directed to refrain from abuse of human rights and also to assist the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold general elections in the provinces of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, within the timeframe, in compliance of Supreme Court’s Order, to avoid further complications including contempt of court.

The move came days after the electoral watchdog had postponed the upcoming elections in Punjab — initially scheduled to be held on April 30 — citing security reasons as the major cause behind the change in plans.

In his letter, the president said that the prime minister, being head of the government, was responsible for safeguarding human rights as well as the fundamental rights of every citizen of Pakistan as enshrined in the Constitution.

The president said that events that were highlighted by the print, electronic, and social media had taken place in the recent past about glaring violations of fundamental and human rights needed to be brought to the premier’s notice to ensure remedial measures and preventive action.

President Alvi maintained that elections of provincial assemblies, in case of their dissolution under Article 105 or Article 112, were required to be held within 90 days under Article 224 (2) of the Constitution.

The top court in its order dated March 1, had directed the electoral watchdog to propose date(s) to the president for holding the poll within 90 days or on a date that deviates to the barest minimum from the aforesaid deadline, he added.

The president said that KP Governor Haji Ghulam Ali was also directed by the SC to appoint a date for holding the general election for the provincial assembly as per the time frame.

“Subsequently, ECP had proposed holding of general elections between 30th April – 7th May, 2023 and general elections for the Provincial Assembly of Punjab were announced to be held on 30th April, 2023 and the same was notified by the ECP,” read the letter.

The head of the state said that it appeared that federal and caretaker governments in Punjab and KP advised the heads of concerned departments to indicate their inability to provide the necessary support for holding general elections.

He referred to Article 220 of the Constitution which states that “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”.

The president underlined that in his opinion, flagrant violation of the Constitution had been committed by the executive authorities and government departments, adding that ECP had not implemented his announcement of holding general elections in Punjab on April 30 and also blatantly violated the Supreme Court’s order.

The ECP has announced the date of October 8, 2023, for holding general elections of provincial assemblies of Punjab and KP, he said.

He maintained that it was a matter of concern that the prime minister had undertaken no meaningful consultation with the president on policy issues in line with Article 46 of the Constitution, which provided that the PM 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.

He added that Rule 15(5) of Rules of Business, 1973 also highlighted the responsibility of the PM, 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.

In his letter, the president also drew the attention of the PM towards the seriousness of incidents of human rights violations, atrocities of police and law enforcement agencies and grossly disproportionate use of force against the citizens.