ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is likely to announce a schedule for the general elections well before the completion of delimitation of constituencies of national and provincial assemblies, informed sources told Dawn.
They said a decision on this would not take months or weeks, but days. They said the issue was discussed during the commission’s consultative meeting with the PPP on a roadmap to the general elections here on Tuesday.
Urging the ECP to meet the constitutional deadline of 90 days, the PPP asked for immediate announcement of the schedule for the electoral exercise. The commission assured the party of looking into its request.
The meeting, chaired by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja, was attended by the secretary, members and senior officers of the commission. The PPP delegation comprised Nayyar Hussain Bukhari, Sherry Rehman, Taj Haider, Syed Naveed Qamar, Murad Ali Shah and Faisal Karim Kundi.
PPP says polls in 90 days, not delimitation, priority of Constitution; consultation with ANP, BAP teams today
The CEC also talked about the pressure from other political parties for the yet-to-start delimitation exercise prior to the elections, a participant in the meeting told Dawn.
According to a press release issued by the ECP, the PPP delegation insisted that holding of general elections within 90 days of dissolution of assemblies was a constitutional requirement. It, however, said since the ECP had already announced the schedule for delimitation, it should squeeze the timeline for the exercise, announce date and schedule for the polls and ensure conduct of the electoral exercise as soon as possible.
The PPP said this would help revive the economy, lower the political temperature and end uncertainty.
The CEC, while hinting at squeezing the timeline for delimitation, assured the party that the process would be completed at the earliest, followed by immediate conduct of elections.
Talking to reporters after the meeting, Nayyar Bukhari said it would be a violation of the constitution if the elections are not held within 90 days of dissolution of assemblies.
Sherry Rehman said: “We look towards the ECP for upholding the Constitution which means free, fair and timely elections”.
She said the conduct of elections within the stipulated period, and not delimitation, was a priority under the Constitution.
The senator said the country was going through an extraordinarily difficult economic phase. “Before it gets worse it would be best if an elected government comes in with a clear mandate to make the changes needed for public relief,” she observed.
She said the PPP delegation stressed on a timely election and the need for announcement of its date and schedule forthwith to bring the country out of the current turmoil. She said the meeting was held in a cordial environment and the PPP explained its apprehensions over the delayed polls to the commission.
Meetings with ANP, BAP
The ECP will meet delegations of the Awami National Party (ANP) and Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) on Wednesday.
The ANP delegation will be led by its secretary general Mian Iftikhar Hussain.
In a statement, Mian Iftikhar said the ANP team would apprise the ECP of the party’s stance on digital census, delimitation of constituencies and other poll-related issues.
The ANP leader contended that the fixing of date for the elections and their conduct are the constitutional responsibility of the Election Commission, adding that his party supported the democratic system and supremacy of parliament in the country.
Meanwhile, two important meetings were held at the ECP to review preparations for the upcoming general elections. The first one was with the chief secretary and IG of Sindh and the other with the Balochistan chief secretary and police chief.
The meetings were chaired by CEC Sikandar Sultan Raja and attended by the secretary and members of ECP, provincial election commissioners of Sindh and Balochistan and other senior officers.
During the meetings, the ECP was briefed on the preparations for the general elections in the two provinces and assured of full cooperation.
Transfers and postings of officials and appointments of district returning officers, returning officers, assistant returning officers and monitoring teams, maintenance of flood-affected polling station buildings and the security situation in the two provinces also came under discussion during the meetings.
Published in Dawn, August 30th, 2023