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A day after the Senate passed the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2017, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday announced that it will commence the process of delimitation of constituencies towards the end of December this year and complete the entire process by May 20, 2018.

The bill will become a law after a formal assent by President Mamnoon Hussain. The bill, which the National Assembly had passed on November 16, seeks fresh delimitation of electoral constituencies ahead of the upcoming general elections on the basis of provisional results of the 2017 population census.

Under the terms of the amendment, while the number of NA seats will remain the same, Punjab will lose out on seats as its share in Pakistan's population has fallen to 52 per cent in 2017 from 56pc in 1998. Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will gain the seats lost by Punjab, while Sindh's share will remain the same. The delimitation bill will reallocate seats of all national and provincial assemblies keeping in view the latest census results.

According to a press release by the commission, the ECP has drafted a plan for delimitation of constituencies. Under the plan, the ECP will start procuring maps and other relevant data by December 26, 2017, and complete the process by Jan 10, 2018. In the meantime, delimitation committees will be constituted and trained. The committees will begin delimitation of constituencies by January 15 and complete it by February 28.

The ECP will then invite proposals and objections on the draft delimitation in the next 30 days between March 5 and April 3. The disposal of proposals and objections will be carried out from April 4 to May 3. The process of delimitation will be completed by May 20 with the official publication of the exercise.

To ensure implementation of the draft plan, the ECP has called an emergency meeting of all chief secretaries, secretary statistics, provincial election commissioners, chairman of National Database and Registration Authority and other relevant officials on December 22.

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