The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday reiterated its resolve to speed up the delimitation of constituencies and announce a schedule for general elections thereafter, allaying fears that polls could be delayed indefinitely to extend the interim government’s tenure.
The electoral watchdog gave the assurance to a PML-Q delegation that visited the ECP Secretariat in Islamabad for a meeting to discuss a roadmap for the coming elections.
The ECP has been holding consultations with various parties on the electoral roadmap in recent days. The meetings come against the backdrop of the electoral watchdog ruling out elections this year, while the 90-day limit for holding polls — mandated under Article 224 of the Constitution, ends on November 9.
The ECP reasons its decision to push elections beyond November 9 on the basis of the notification of results of the new digital 2023 census and Section 17(2) of the Elections Act, which states: “The commission shall delimit constituencies after every census is officially published.”
In line with this requirement, the ECP has said the process of fresh delimitation is expected to be completed by December 14 — over a month beyond the constitutionally mandated deadline for conducting general elections.
However, during its meeting with PML-Q today, the ECP said it intended to squeeze the delimitation timelines as much as possible and immediately issue the schedule for polls.
The meeting was chaired by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja and also attended by senior ECP officials. The PML-Q delegation was led by Muhammad Tariq Hussain, Farukh Khan, Ghulam Mustafa Malik, Rizwan Sadiq and Hafiz Aqeel Jalil.
According to a press release issued by the electoral body, CEC Raja promised that the process of delimitation and elections would be held in a transparent and fair manner.
For its part, the PML-Q delegation backed the ECP on its decision regarding conducting delimitation. “It would be unfair if the exercise is not conducted,” the press release quoted the political party as saying.
It added that the PML-Q also assured the CEC of supporting him throughout the electoral process.
Meanwhile, ECP officials also had a consultative session with the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan. The party demanded that union councils across the country should be empowered to strengthen the local government system.
The TLP also decried that it was not given media coverage as compared to other political parties. It further asked the election commission to improve poll monitoring, clear the voter list of deceased persons and increase its staff for speedy delimitation.
The ECP should also first make the security situation in the country better, the TLP added.
CEC Raja assured the party that work on the aforementioned demands was already under way, adding that the commission had taken help from law enforcement agencies to ensure law and order.
The ECP further maintained that it would also consult political parties on the electoral code of conduct.