• Report on redrawn constituencies to be published on Nov 30
• Over 1,400 objections to delimitation filed; representations come from 124 of 143 districts

ISLAMABAD: In a significant step towards the Feb 8 general election, the printing of final electoral rolls has begun as the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday concluded hearings on objections to the new delimitation of constituencies.

During a meeting chaired by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, it was announced that the final report on redrawn constituencies will be published on Nov 30, as planned.

All told, the ECP received 1,403 representations challenging the delimitation of national and provincial assembly constituencies.

An analysis by Pattan highlighted that challenges to the preliminary delimitation were filed from 124 of the country’s 143 districts.

In Punjab, the battleground province in elections to grab political power, the preliminary delimitation was challenged from every district except for one.

Some 80 per cent of the examined petitions claimed gerrymandering by the delimitation committees. Almost every petitioner alleged non-compliance with principles outlined in Section 20 of the Elections Act 2017.

In Thursday’s meeting, the ECP stressed that it was ready to hold general elections on Feb 8 and directed the acquisition of army services to ensure voters’ security.

The Election Commission emphasised that if the police force was found insufficient, timely alternative arrangements should be ensured and the services of the Pakistan Army should also be availed to ensure a secure and peaceful voting process.

The meeting, which reviewed the overall election preparations, saw participation from four ECP members, its secretary, the provincial election commissioner of Punjab and other officers. The provincial election commissioners of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Balochistan joined the meeting via a video link.

The participants were informed that the Election Commission had completed hearings on all objections to the initial delimitation. Consequently, the list of final constituencies will be published on Nov 30.

Additionally, the printing and distribution of final electoral rolls are underway at Nadra and their timely delivery will be ensured.

The ECP has also finalised a code of conduct for the elections in consultation with political parties and it will be formally notified in the next few days.

The commission was told that the training plan for district returning officers, returning officers, and polling staff was ready and that timely training of the related election officials would be ensured.

Similarly, necessary arrangements for printing ballot papers and purchasing election material have been completed, meaning the Election Commission is ready to hold the elections.

The ECP meeting expressed satisfaction over election arrangements made so far and ordered that a complete mechanism be put in place for the timely delivery of electoral rolls to returning officers.

The Election Commission also called for detailed plans regarding law enforcement agency deployment and the role of provincial governments in maintaining peace and order during the elections.

Meanwhile, Caretaker Information Minister Murtaza Solangi said on Thursday that the government was committed to conducting free, fair, and transparent elections and would provide all possible facilities to the ECP for conducting polls, APP reported.

“Equal opportunities are being provided to all political parties. There will be no discrimination against anyone,” Mr Solangi said, stressing the need for a consensus among all political parties to improve the political environment.

Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2023

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