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Delimitation exercise

December 15, 2012

A DECISION has been taken. The ECP has said that Karachi alone will have its constituencies delimited as per the Supreme Court’s directives. The court felt that such an exercise would reduce violence in the metropolis. However, as we have stated before, it is not a wise idea to focus on delimitation in Karachi alone for a number of reasons. Keeping the city’s many conflicts — political, ethnic, sectarian — in mind, delimiting constituencies at this point and in this manner will almost certainly prove divisive. For example, the MQM — whose chief has been issued a contempt notice by the court for criticising the judiciary on the matter — opposes delimiting Karachi only. In contrast, parties such as the ANP, seen as competing with the MQM over Karachi’s spoils, support the idea. In fact, the ECP will consider proposals from several political parties before redrawing the constituencies. So delimitation at this time can have unintended consequences; instead of reducing violence in the city it may actually add to it.

Also, the contention that new delimitation would be faulty without a fresh census report stands as there is no headcount on the horizon. The other question —why Karachi alone — remains valid. After all, there have been complaints regarding the redrawing of constituencies in other parts of the country. So why is Karachi being singled out? No satisfactory answer to this has been forthcoming from the relevant quarters. As reports indicate, the date for general elections is due to be announced soon. And it is hoped that the delimitation exercise is not used as an excuse to postpone polls. Elections must be held as per schedule for continuity of the democratic process; hence there is much logic in the suggestion that delimitation across the country be carried out after the polls based on new census numbers. There is no need to rush such a delicate process, that too in one of the country’s most politically volatile cities. Instead, we feel the ECP should concentrate on other areas, such as an error-free voters’ list, and ensure that political parties respect its code of conduct. It should leave the issue of delimitation for another day.