In response to a joint condemnation by Caretaker Information Minister Murtaza Solangi and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) regarding President Dr Arif Alvi’s initiative to convey Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) concerns about an alleged ‘lack of a level-playing field’ ahead of the polls to the interim government, the former ruling party on Saturday strongly criticised the characterisation of the president’s statement as contrary to the Constitution.
In a statement issued today, the party’s spokesperson accused the interim information minister of “unconstitutionally and illegally occupying” the ministry after the Constitution’s prescribed period had expired. This reference was made in connection to the requirement for holding elections within 90 days after the dissolution of assemblies, a timeline that had exceeded the constitutionally mandated period. The ECP, citing the need for delimitations and final electoral lists according to the Election Act, delayed announcing the election date.
This deadlock was resolved when the Supreme Court intervened, directing ECP officials to consult with the president and jointly announce the poll date. Consequently, the president and ECP declared February 8, 2024, as the date for the general elections.
Meanwhile, the PTI’s spokesperson in today’s statement aligned with President Alvi, condemning the minister for attempting to “teach the Constitution” to the president. He emphasised the “shameful role” of the caretaker government and ECP in denying PTI a level-playing field, citing restrictions on public gatherings and alleged forced disappearances of party leaders and workers.
Read More: Alvi under fire for advocating PTI’s poll concerns
Notably, on Friday, President Alvi faced criticism for relaying PTI’s concerns about alleged infringements on citizens’ rights and an erosion of a fair electoral contest to the prime minister. Caretaker Information Minister Murtaza Solangi urged the president to uphold his role as the symbol of the federation rather than being perceived as a party spokesperson.
The ECP also expressed concerns about attempts to cast suspicion on the transparency of the upcoming election, emphasising its commitment to ensuring fair and transparent elections.
In a post on X (formerly Twitter), the interim government’s spokesperson, Murtaza Solangi, suggested a conflict between the president’s statements and his constitutional role, urging President Alvi to allow constitutional institutions, especially the ECP, to perform their duties without interference.
In response, the PTI spokesperson in today’s statement argued that the president had announced the election date within his constitutional powers, emphasising the need for transparent and fair elections. Referring to Article 41 of the Constitution, which obliges the president to protect citizens’ constitutional rights, he praised President Alvi for fulfilling his duties in accordance with the spirit of the Constitution.
The PTI spokesperson also accused former prime minister and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif of “buying judges” in top state positions. He criticised the caretaker information minister for commenting on the constitutional role of the head of state, urging the government to provide equal rights to all political parties and cease any alleged pre-election rigging.
The spokesperson condemned the negative propaganda against PTI, asserting the party’s commitment to the Constitution and the rule of law. Despite facing oppression and fascism, the party vowed to continue its peaceful struggle within the bounds of the law, dismissing baseless state-sponsored campaigns against its increasing popularity.