ECP extends deadline for filing nomination papers by two days

Published December 22, 2023
The electoral watchdog announced that nomination papers can now be filed till Dec 24 (Sunday). — File photo
The electoral watchdog announced that nomination papers can now be filed till Dec 24 (Sunday). — File photo

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Friday extended its deadline for filing nomination papers for the February 8 general elections by two days but asserted that the extension would not affect the poll date.

With little than over a month left for polls, the electoral watchdog has entered election mode. Last week, the commission issued the election schedule, putting an end to uncertainty surrounding the exercise.

As per the original schedule, the process to file nomination papers for national and provincial assemblies seats commenced on Dec 20. The deadline for the filing of papers was set to expire at 4:30pm today.

However, in a press release this morning, the electoral watchdog announced that nomination papers can now be filed till Dec 24 (Sunday). It said the decision was taken in response to requests from political parties and to facilitate the candidacy process.

“Political parties must submit priority lists for specific seats to returning officers within the stipulated time,” it highlighted.

Returning officers will examine the nomination papers from Dec 25 to Dec 30, as specified in the schedule. The statement underscored that “all activities as listed in the election schedule released on Dec 15 will be held as planned”.

The electoral watchdog also confirmed that the amended schedule was available on the ECP website. The statement further emphasises that the changes did not affect the poll date and that elections would be held on Feb 8.

The development comes a day after PML-N leader Ishaq Dar wrote a letter to the ECP seeking a two-day extension in the deadline to submit nomination papers.

In a letter posted on X (formerly Twitter), Dar — who is the chairman of the party’s election cell — had noted that according to the schedule issued by the ECP, candidates were required to file nomination papers from Dec 20 to Dec 22 while dates for scrutiny were fixed from Dec 24 to Dec 30.

“The commission enjoys the power to make necessary amendments in the [election] schedule without affecting/changing the polling date,” he had said.

The PML-N senator further highlighted that only three days had been allocated for the filing of nomination papers while seven days had been given for the scrutiny of the same.

PPP writes to ECP

Separately, Senator Taj Haider, the in-charge of the PPP’s central election cell, wrote a letter Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja.

In the letter, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, Haider said that under the aforementioned section, mayor/chairman/nazim had been restricted from participating in election campaigns.

“There is no law which prohibits a mayor/chairman/nazim of local governments from contesting elections on a general seat for provincial and national assemblies and presently there are many cases in which those elected in the local government elections are filing nomination papers for contesting on PA and NA seats in the forthcoming general elections. These candidates, naturally have to run and lead their election campaigns,” he said.

He also pointed out that appointed village councils had been replaced with constitutionally mandated local governments in Punjab, adding that “these appointed persons are fully participating in the election campaign of a certain political party”.

“As a matter of fact there are widespread reports that the village councils are providing jobs and contracts to the loyalists of that particular political party,” he said. Haider pointed out that in a past meeting with the ECP, the “illegality” of these appointed village councils was acknowledged.

He asked the CEC for Section 18 of the Code of Conduct to be amended to exclude the names of mayor/chairman/nazim from the list of those who cannot participate in election campaigns.

“Secondly, your honour may be pleased to order that appointed village councils in the province of Punjab may be dismissed with immediate effect,” he said.

Candidates race to file nomination papers

Meanwhile, several candidates, both backed by political parties and independent ones, submitted their nomination papers on Thursday.

In Lahore, PML-N Chief Organiser Maryam Nawaz Sharif reportedly received nomination papers. She is expected to contest elections on a national or provincial assembly constituency from Lahore and submit nomination papers today.

Sources had told Dawn that as many as 300 candidates received nomination papers on the second day of the ECP schedule in this regard.

Those who submitted papers yesterday included PTI leader and lawyer Sardar Latif Khosa, who will contest from the NA-122 constituency. Another lawyer, Salman Akram Raja, is reportedly set to submit papers for NA-128. Liaqat Baloch, the vice emir of Jamaat-i-Islami, submitted papers for both NA-123 and NA-128 seats.

PPP’s Shagufta Javaid and Munazza Sonia Khan also filed their papers, while the PTI’s Dr Shaheena, Shahida Ahmad and PML-N’s Uzma Kardar also submitted papers.

Since former premier Shehbaz Sharif had also obtained papers for NA-123, he is expected to submit them today. PML-N’s Saba Sadiq, Fatima Begum and Shahid Butt also filed their papers.

In Balochistan, the filing of nomination papers for 16 national and 51 provincial assembly seats continued on Thursday. Prominent among those who submitted their nomination papers were the Senate Chairman and Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) leader Sadiq Sanjrani, who will contest from Quetta’s NA-262 and PB-32.


Additional input from Nadir Guramani

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