The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday continued its meetings on the electoral roadmap with major political parties, assuring both the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) of timely elections after the completion of fresh delimitation of constituencies.
Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja separately met a MQM delegation led by Dr. Farooq Sattar and a JI delegation led by Ameerul Azeem, emphasizing that a code of conduct would be devised for the general elections in consultation with political parties. According to a statement issued by the ECP, the MQM had endorsed its decision to conduct fresh delimitation before elections. It said the party’s leaders had noted that the exercise was required in light of a “substantial” increase to the population of Karachi, and had also stressed on updating the electoral rolls transparently.
In a media interaction after the meeting, Sattar said elections cannot occur until all constitutional requirements have been met. In this regard, he said, elections should be held under new constituencies,, but cautioned against any “unnecessary” delay in elections. “A transparent delimitation is an important prerequisite for transparent polls,” he said, adding this was a necessary exercise under both the Constitution and Elections Act after a new census. “If delimitation can take place in 120 days, all other steps should be completed soon as well,” he added.
He told media that the ECP had assured the MQM delegation that it would fulfill all constitutional prerequisites within the shortest possible time, adding there should be no politics over the census following its approval by the Council of Common Interests (CCI). He noted the PTI had insisted the next elections should be held after a new census, but had since started to ignore constitutional requirements.
“We also talked with the Election Commission about pre-election and post-election rigging,” he said, alleging the civil administration in Sindh was facilitating the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).
Speaking with media after their meeting with the ECP, leaders of the JI criticized the electoral body’s decision to consult with political parties after announcing the delimitation schedule, stressing the consultation process should have started earlier. They further said the ECP should have issued an election schedule alongside the delimitation schedule to allay concerns about unnecessary delays. They also criticized the previous government for delaying the announcement of the census results.
The JI delegation suggested to the ECP that limits should be imposed for poll expenditures, and called for strict action against anyone who violated the code of conduct. “The Election Commission should fulfil its responsibilities according to the Constitution and law,” said the party, while also maintaining that the assemblies should not have been dissolved prematurely.