LAHORE: All the five elected assemblies of the country will complete their constitutional tenures in the last week of May 2018, says the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

Some media reports have been suggesting that the National Assembly will complete its tenure on June 5 and the general elections may be held by Aug 5 to meet the constitutional requirement of holding the polls within 60 days after expiry of the term of a house.

“The five-year constitutional term of the National Assembly and the Punjab Assembly is ending on May 31 while those of the Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan assemblies three days before i.e, on May 28,” says ECP Director-General (Elections) Yousuf Khattak.

He, along with ECP additional secretaries Zafar Iqbal Husain and Dr Akhtar Nazeer and other officers, was briefing the media on the recently-passed Election Act 2017 and the rules prepared by the Commission under it here on Wednesday.

Mr Khattak disclosed that under the new ECP rules all the officials – from district returning officer to election assistance and security staff to be deployed in and around polling stations for 2018 vote – would be made to take oath before the polls that they would remain impartial and won’t violate the election code of conduct.

Under the new powers conferred on the ECP by the Election Act 2017, the election staff would be under direct control of the Commission and it could penalise the violators as per efficiency and disciplinary rules, he added.

Mr Husain said that under the new law election petition may be directly filed with the election tribunal, whose decision could be challenged only in the Supreme Court and not in high courts unlike in the past.

To make the voters lists more transparent, he said, after Dec 31, 2018 all voters would be registered either on the basis of their permanent or temporary addresses mentioned in the computerised identity cards (CNICs) and no third address would be accepted.

Dr Akhtar informed the media men that from now on the ballot papers would be printed only at state-owned printing facilities using paper with security features.

The use of biometric and electronic machines, he said, was not possible for the forthcoming polls as the two systems had been tried in the by-polls only for study purposes.

Responding to a query about barring women from voting, Mr Husain said in case women turnout remained less than 10 per cent of the total votes polled for a seat, the election for that seat would be declared void.

Voter Lists: ECP Director (MIS) Babar Malik said 50,000 citizens holding CNICs were “missing” from the voter lists. He said an attempt would be made to recover these missing voters during the door-to-door campaign the Commission is going to launch in December for updating the voter lists in accordance with the 165,000 census blocks, a raise of 25,000 blocks since the previous census.

Published in Dawn, November 9th, 2017

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