ISLAMABAD: With four months to go before 2018 general elections, the National Assembly (NA) and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) appear to be on a collision course over delimitation of constituencies and it is feared that the confrontation may cause delay in holding of the polls.
Rejecting the ECP’s “order” that delimitation of constituencies is the job of the commission only, the NA’s Special Committee on Delimitation of Constituencies said on Friday that it had all legal and constitutional rights to address the issue of controversial delimitation of constituencies.
However, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), an opposition party, quit the special committee while endorsing the stance of the ECP that it was the sole prerogative of the commission to form constituencies.
The committee, which met in Parliament House with Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Murtaza Abbasi in chair, decided to send a letter to Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) retired Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza and forward its recommendations on delimitation to the ECP, if approved by the lower house of parliament.
With reference to the points raised by members regarding a notification issued by the ECP on March 5, the National Assembly recently adopted a motion to constitute the special committee to examine proposals/objections relating to delimitation of constituencies being conducted by the ECP and make recommendations in this regard to the house in seven days.
According to an official press release issued by the special committee, the in-camera meeting observed that the ECP “order” appeared to be result of misunderstanding because the NA had appointed the committee under its rules to examine proposals/objections on delimitation and make recommendations to the house and not to the commission.
The special committee said that no interference had been made in the mandate of the ECP.
The NA committee has not completed its assignment yet.
“It is the mandate of the National Assembly to examine the matters relating to laws enacted by the parliament and subordinate legislation made there under to ensure the implementation thereof accordingly,” the meeting observed.
It announced that the findings and recommendations, if any, of the special committee were yet to be considered by the NA and, if decided, then only they might be forwarded to the commission as per established parliamentary practices.
The press release was signed by Mr Abbasi, the chairman of the committee, and members Lt Gen (retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch, Daniyal Aziz, Syed Naveed Qamar, S.A. Iqbal Quadri, Naeema Kishwar, Asiya Nasir, Mehmood Achakzai, Aftab Sherpao and Shahji Gul Afridi.
On March 5, ECP officials handed over Federal Minister for Privatisation Daniyal Aziz, the convener of the committee’s working group, the official “order” signed by all four members of the commission and the CEC. The order said the commission respected the parliament and parliamentary committees but as the delimitation of constituencies was the sole mandate of the ECP under the constitution and law, representations by aggrieved persons could be filed only in the manner provided under the law and rules which did not permit any other form of representation.
Published in Dawn, March 17th, 2018
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