In a surprising development on Wednesday, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) withdrew its notification regarding polls in Punjab scheduled for April 30, postponing elections for the provincial assembly until October 8, 2023.
“The Commission hereby withdraws the election program issued vide Notification No. F. 2(3)/2023/Cord dated 8th March, 2023 and fresh schedule will be issued in due course of time with poll date on 08th October, 2023,” the electoral body announced in an order issued here today.
The commission said that, after considering reports of different stakeholders including the interior and defence ministries, it reached the conclusion that “it is not possible to hold and organise elections honestly, fairly, justly in a peaceful manner and in accordance with the Constitution and law”.
It said the elections for the Punjab Assembly will now be held on October 8, also withdrawing the schedule it had previously released for the elections on March 8.Earlier this month, the Supreme Court had ordered that President Arif Alvi should announce the date of the Punjab Assembly election, while the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) governor would set the election date of the provincial assembly in consultation with the ECP.
A five-judge larger bench of the apex court on March 1 gave a 3-2 split verdict on a suo motu case about the election for the two provincial assemblies after holding hearing for two days.
Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Munib Akhtar and Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar supported the verdict, while Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah dissented by opposing the admissibility of the suo moto case.
The Punjab Assembly was dissolved by then-chief minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi in January on the instructions of PTI Chairman Imran Khan.
Imran had also ordered the dissolution of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Assembly, which was also dissolved the same month.