ECP Secretary Babar Yaqub Fateh Muhammad says five delimitation committees have been formed — one for each province and the fifth for Islamabad and Fata.
ECP Secretary Babar Yaqub Fateh Muhammad says five delimitation committees have been formed — one for each province and the fifth for Islamabad and Fata.

ISLAMABAD: ECP Secre­tary Babar Yaqub Fateh Muhammad said on Friday that delimitation of constituencies would start on Jan 15 and complete by May 3.

Briefing reporters after a meeting of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), he said five delimitation committees had been formed — one for each province and the fifth for Islamabad and Fata.

He said various aspects and requirements of delimitation were discussed at the meeting. The commission sought maps and relevant data from the Statistics Division and provincial governments by Jan 10, 2018.

Revenue boundaries across country frozen till general elections

The top official of the commission said that CCTV cameras would be installed at all sensitive polling stations during the general elections, while provincial governments would use resources for installation of security cameras. He said the process of revision of electoral rolls would begin in the first week of January and electoral rolls would be frozen on May 5, 2018.

He said there were 7.5 million CNIC holders who had not been registered as voters. The ECP has decided to carry out a door-to-door verification exercise, the staff for which has been sought from provinces. He said that work would start in the first week of January and would be completed by end of April.

Earlier, the meeting decided that all revenue boundaries across the country would be frozen immediately till the conclusion of the general polls in 2018 in order to forestall any manipulations based on political considerations within provinces and districts. The high-level meeting was held with Chief Election Commissioner retired Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza in the chair.

A senior official of the ECP told Dawn that the decision was taken in the interest of maintaining transparency and to obviate possible altercations between provinces in accordance with their political interests.

The meeting was held as procedural hitches continue to prevent the constitutional amendment bill providing for fresh delimitation on the basis of provisional census results from becoming an act of parliament.

The official said the delay in obtaining the president’s assent to the bill was worrisome as every day that passed by was a loss that the ECP would bear as it struggled to meet challenging targets for the delimitation exercise as well as other arrangements for the general elections.

The constitutional amendment bill was passed by the National Assembly on Nov 16, after a deadlock that lasted over a month due to objections raised by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). The opposition finally came around after the government agreed to the PPP’s demands and the bill sailed through the Senate on Dec 19. Though there have been instances of a law passed by the two houses and becoming law within hours, this bill, of an extremely urgent nature, must wait till at least Tuesday to get the president’s formal assent.

Sources in the presidency told Dawn that they had not yet received a summary in this regard from the Prime Minister’s secretariat.

The source said that under the previous plan, the appointment of returning officers (ROs) and district returning officers (DROs) were to be made in the last week of March 2018, but this would not be possible now as they could only be appointed after the completion of the delimitation process, which is expected to be completed by May 3.

He said according to the law, DROs and ROs were to be appointed two months prior to the announcement of the election schedule, however, this provision would now be violated out of no fault on the ECP’s part. He added that if all went well, the schedule would be announced somewhere around May 29. He regretted that the ROs’ duties of preparing a polling scheme and training of polling, which had been planned for April, would now be affected.

The meeting was attended by the Nadra chairman, the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) secretary, the Fata additional chief secretary, provincial chief secretaries and provincial election commissioners. The agenda of the meeting included discussions on revision of electoral rolls, procurement of maps along with description, GIS facilities, installation of CCTV cameras at sensitive polling stations and missing facilities at the proposed polling stations. They also discussed provision of proposed polling personnel, assistance during delimitation, revision of electoral rolls and preparation of draft list of polling stations and timelines of delimitation, revision of electoral rolls and elections.

Published in Dawn, December 23rd, 2017