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ECP Assures Conduct of General Elections by mid-February

Electoral body holds meetings with ANP, BNP, BAP as part of consultative sessions for election roadmap

by Staff Report


The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday assured the Awami National Party (ANP) it will conduct general elections by mid-February, at the latest, after delimitation of constituencies has been completed.

The assurance was affirmed during a consultative meeting between the ECP and a delegation of the ANP, part of a series of meetings between the electoral body and major political parties to discuss a roadmap for elections. Chaired by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja, the meeting included senior ECP officials as well as the ANP delegation, which was led by party Secretary General Mian Iftikhar Hussain and comprised Zahid Khan, Khushdil Khan and Abdul Rahim Wazir.

To concerns from the ANP over an “indefinite” delay to the elections, the ECP assured the party that it would seek to reduce the time required for delimitation of constituencies and conduct the general elections as soon as possible. It emphasized that elections would take place by mid-February, at the latest, but could also occur in the end of January if the delimitation exercise were completed earlier.

The ECP, per a statement issued by the electoral body, also assured the ANP that it would not succumb to any pressure to delay the polls beyond mid-February.

Recalling that the delimitation process was set to conclude by Dec. 14, the ECP clarified that if it appeared this could be completed earlier, it would announce an amended delimitation schedule alongside an election schedule.

The ANP, per the statement, urged the ECP to issue a schedule for elections even if it could not ensure they would be held within 90 days of the dissolution of the National Assembly. Earlier this week, the PPP had voiced a similar demand to reduce uncertainty that was worsening economic turmoil.

Speaking with journalists after the meeting, ANP’s Hussain said the ECP had assured them it would expedite the delimitation process. He said his party had stressed upon the electoral body that holding elections within 90 days of an assembly’s dissolution was a constitutional requirement, noting it was unfortunate that the early dissolution of the National Assembly and the abrupt approval of census results by the Council of Common Interests (CCI) had created doubts about elections.

However, he added, the ECP had said it was bound by law to redraw constituencies in accordance with census results once they had been approved by the CCI and officially notified. He said the ANP delegation had also emphasized the need for a level playing field for all political parties. To a question, he said the military establishment had assured the public it would not interfere in politics and this had to be accepted if the country were to move forward.

Also on Wednesday, the ECP conducted similar meetings with delegations of the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) and Balochistan National Party (BNP). Per a statement issued by the electoral body, the BAP delegation supported the ECP’s delimitation exercise, maintaining it would be “injustice” if constituencies were not redrawn after the census approval. The party urged the ECP to ensure transparent delimitation followed by free and fair polls and reminded it to keep weather conditions in mind when announcing the election schedule so candidates, voters were not inconvenienced. The BNP, meanwhile, sought timely conduct of elections, and also criticized the census results, claiming it appeared Balochistan had been undercounted.

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