ISLAMABAD - The nation is gearing up for the general elections and Pakistan People’s Party and its coalition partners want holding of polls for the national and provincial assemblies on the same day before March 14. The Election Commission of Pakistan is also desires to hold the elections on a single day for it will help dispel the impression of rigging.

The assemblies could be dissolved on the advice of the prime minister and chief minister or on the completion of their term. For the dissolution of the provincial assemblies, Article 107 says; “A provincial assembly shall, unless sooner dissolved, continue for a term of five years from the day of its first meeting and shall stand dissolved on the expiration of its term.” The Balochistan Assembly will complete its five-year term on April 6.

If the assemblies are dissolved before March 14 as stated by PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat and many others, Balochistan may face a constitutional crisis as hinted by Shahid Hamid, counsel for the Balochistan government, during the hearing of the law and order case.

Balochistan is currently under the governor’s rule after President Asif Ali Zardari on January 14 suspended the provincial government for two months by invoking Article 234 of the Constitution. Zardari invoked the said article after the Shia Hazara community refused to bury bodies of 86 victims of the twin suicide bomb attacks.

Balochistan Advocate General Amanullah Kanrani told The Nation that after abolition of Article 58 (2b), the assemblies could be dissolved on the advice of the chief executive. He said Aslam Raisani was still the chief minister and his cabinet only had been suspended. He said the Raisani government must be restored for the dissolution of the provincial assembly and for a caretaker setup. The provincial assembly could only be dissolved under Article 112 (1) of the Constitution by the governor if so advised by the chief minister or it would automatically stand dissolved on the expiry of 48 hours after the chief minister had so advised. Consultation with the chief minister and the leader of the opposition in the provincial assembly is required for the caretaker setup under Article 224 (2).

Former Balochistan High Court Bar Association president Hadi Shakeel who has filed a petition in the Supreme Court on the deteriorating law and order situation in the province says as the president, under Article 234 of the Constitution, has delegated powers of chief executive to Governor Nawab Zulfiqar Magsi, he could dissolve the provincial assembly.

Under Article 112 (2), the governor may also dissolve the provincial assembly in his discretion, but subject to approval by the president, where a vote of no-confidence has been passed against the chief minister and no other member of the provincial assembly commands the confidence of the majority of the members of the assembly, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, as ascertained at a session of the assembly summoned for the purpose.

The governor’s rule was imposed in Balochistan under Article 234 of the Constitution which allows the president to do so if the governor reports that the government machinery in the province has failed to deliver. Nawab Aslam Raisani’s government was suspended on the ground that it failed miserably to deliver and also committed corruption.

Article 234 (3) says, “A proclamation issued under Article 234 shall be laid before a joint sitting and cease to be in force on the expiration of two months, unless it has been approved by a resolution of the joint sitting of the Parliament and may, by like resolution, be extended for a period not exceeding two months at a time; but no such proclamation shall in any case remain in force for more than six months”.