ISLAMABAD: The much-awaited schedule for the upcoming general election will be announced 56 days before Feb 8, the date set for polling.

“You can calculate the date yourself. It would be somewhere around Dec 14,” a senior official of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) told Dawn.

According to the official, all arrangements have been made for free and fair elections after successfully completing tasks like hearing representations against delimitation and publishing the final list of constituency delimitation in time. So the ECP is now ready to announce the election schedule.

The official mentioned that the chief justices of Sindh, Lahore, and Peshawar High Courts have already refused to spare judicial officers for appointment as district returning officers (DROs) and returning officers (ROs), while a response from the Balochistan High Court is awaited.

CEC invites MQM for talks on Monday; three advisers to caretaker PM yet to submit statements of assets

He said the appointment of DROs and ROs is expected shortly, with district administration officers likely to take up the duties. The electoral body plans to hold a meeting next week to review election preparations and the status of implementing decisions made at the previous meeting, he added.

CEC invites MQM

In a related development, an ECP spokesperson stated that Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja has invited the MQM-P for a meeting on Monday (Dec 4) to discuss and address the party’s apprehensions.

The ECP also denounced PTI leader Babar Awan’s remarks about an alleged reduction in National Assembly seats from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, calling it an attempt to create confusion.

The spokesperson clarified that, in fact, the 25th Constitutional Amendment in 2018 led to the abolition of 12 National Assembly seats in FATA after its merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and the seats of the National Assembly for the province were increased from 39 to 45.

Similarly, he explained, 16 general seats have been increased from 99 to 115 in the Provincial Assembly of KP. The lawyer’s statement questioning the ECP’s authority to reduce the seats of KP is very ridiculous.

“As a lawyer, Babar Awan should not do anything outside the Constitution and the law. It is the prerogative of parliament to determine the seats of national and provincial assemblies, and according to the constitutionally allotted seats, the Election Commission has divided the constituencies,” he maintained.

Assets and liabilities

Meanwhile, three members of the caretaker federal government, including retired Air Marshal Farhat Hussain Khan, Adviser to the caretaker Prime Minister on Aviation; Ahad Khan Cheema, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Establishment; and Dr Waqar Masood Khan, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance, are yet to submit their statements of assets and liabilities to the ECP as required by law.

Section 230 (3) of the elections act reads “Prime Minister, Chief Minister or a Minister or any other members of a Caretaker Governments shall, within three days from the date of assumption of office, submit to the Commission a statement of assets and liabilities, including assets and liabilities of his spouse and dependent children, as on the preceding 30th day of June on Form B and the Commission shall publish the statement of assets and liabilities in the official Gazette”.

The ECP on Friday sent a letter to the Secretary Cabinet, drawing attention to the mandatory submission of statements of assets and liabilities and naming the three defaulting advisers to the prime minister.

“It is therefore requested to kindly obtain the requisite statement of assets and liabilities (Form-B) from the above listed advisers to the prime minister and furnish the same to this commission for necessary action under the section… at the earliest,” the letter, a copy of which is available with Dawn, reads.

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2023

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