The general elections in 2018 cannot be held based on the final results of the 2017 census, the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) informed the Senate on Wednesday.

During a meeting of Senate Standing Committee on Privatisation and Statistics, Chief Census Commissioner Asif Bajwa said that if the government insists on holding an election in light of the final results of the recently conducted census, it [the elections] will have to be delayed.

The general elections are expected to be held after June, 2018.

Bajwa told the committee that the final results will be released by the end of April, 2018, following which the Election Commission of Pakistan will require four months for delimitation of constituencies. In order to hold the elections on time, old census data will have to be used.

In June, Bajwa had told the chief election commissioner that the final census report on the national, provincial and district level would be finalised in April 2018, which would then be handed over to the ECP.

The chief election commissioner had stated that the ECP would not be in a position to start work on fresh delimitations before obtaining final census data and, therefore, the 2018 general elections would have to be conducted in accordance with the existing delimitations.

However, in September the Inter-Provi­ncial Coordination Committee agreed to the federal government’s proposal to allow the ECP to use provisional census data to carry out delimitation of constituencies under the Election Bill of 2017.

The PBS also turned down the demand to reverify 2 per cent of the census blocks. Minister for Statistics Kamran Michael claimed that a verification process would require the assistance of the army and other institutions which was not possible to arrange.

He said that Sindh is the only province that has raised objections over the census results which will be resolved soon.

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