CONFUSION surrounds the Election Commission of Pakistan’s delimitation of 11 of Karachi’s national and provincial assembly constituencies. On Monday the MQM filed a petition with the Sindh High Court challenging the decision after it staged a protest on Saturday against the move. The Muttahida feels the fresh delimitation is targeted at denying the party its mandate in Karachi, though some analysts say the changes will have minimal impact on the MQM’s electoral fortunes in the metropolis. But the MQM isn’t the only party troubled by the move; nearly all major parties with stakes in Karachi have also criticised the delimitation, claiming it was done without their input.
The ECP has of course pursued the matter under the Supreme Court’s directive to redraw Karachi’s electoral map in order to eliminate ‘no-go areas’ dominated by political and ethnic groupings. But the decision was ill-timed, considering that elections are so close. It would have been better if the delimitation exercise had been carried out after the elections, especially considering the fact that a census has not been held in Pakistan since 1998. Additionally, the whole process has been an opaque one; the commission needs to explain the exact criteria under which selected constituencies have been delimited while the rest of Karachi’s electoral map was left untouched. If the decision is reversed at this juncture, though, it may cause further unwanted complications. Since the ECP has gone ahead with it, perhaps the best solution would be for all political stakeholders to accept the delimitation and concentrate their energies on preparing for the polls. Meanwhile, it is equally important for the ECP to inform the voters of the affected constituencies about the changes that have been made.