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ISLAMABAD: President Mamnoon Hussain on Saturday set July 25 as the date for general elections in the country.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had sent a summary to the president on May 21, proposing holding of 2018 general elections on any date between July 25 and 27. Sources in the Presidency told Dawn that the president had signed the summary approving July 25 as the polling date.

Under Section 57 (1) of the Elections Act, 2017, the president announces the date for elections in consultation with the ECP and the commission is required to announce the schedule for polls within seven days of the announcement of election date.

Sources in the ECP said a tentative schedule for polls was ready and was most likely to be announced on Monday after formal approval by the commission.

ECP has prepared tentative schedule for polls which is likely to be announced on Monday

According to the tentative schedule obtained by Dawn, returning officers will invite nominations papers through public notices and June 4 is to be set as the last date for filing of nomination papers. The list of nominated candidates will be published on June 5. June 12 has been proposed as the last date for the scrutiny of the papers and June 18 as the last date for appeals against acceptance or rejection of nomination papers. June 25 would be the last date for decisions on appeals by the election tribunals and the list of validly nominated candidates will be published the following day. June 27 will be the last date for withdrawal of nomination papers. Returning officers will allocate election symbols to contesting candidates on June 28 and final list of the candidates will also be published the same day.

An ECP official pointed out that it would be for the first time in the electoral history of the country that the scrutiny period would be extended from seven to eight days and the poll campaign period would be increased from 21 days to 28 days.

He said a meeting of the ECP had been convened on May 29 to decide controversies over allocation of symbols to political parties.

The official said the ECP had met all its targets and was fully ready to hold free, fair and transparent elections.

He said delimitation of constituencies had already taken place and final electoral rolls were also ready. He said district returning officers (DROs), returning officers (ROs) and presiding officers (POs) had been appointed and training of polling staff had also started.

He said the commission had announced its plan of action to hold polls and was well on track as far as its implementation was concerned.

He said around 85,000 polling stations with some 285,000 polling booths would be established across the country and security cameras would be installed at most sensitive polling stations.

He said training had already been imparted to 133 DROs while training to 933 ROs, regional election commissioners and district election commissioners was under way and would be completed by June 1. He said training of POs would be completed by July 15.

Answering a question, he said no decision had been taken yet on deployment of army and Rangers in and outside polling stations, adding that it would be done, if required, at most sensitive polling stations.

The five-year term of the National Assembly and the Punjab Assembly will end on May 31 while the Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan assemblies will complete their terms on May 28. Under Article 224 of the Constitution, elections for the national and provincial assemblies are to be held within 60 days following the day the term of the assemblies expires.

Published in Dawn, May 27th, 2018

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