ECP defends delay in polls amid criticism

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has defended its move to go for fresh delimitations after approval of digital census by the Council of Common Interests (CCI) amid criticism by mainstream political parties.

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) have criticized the ECP’s move to hold fresh delimitations terming it against constitution. They said it was beyond the mandate of the ECP to delay elections more than 90 days.

On Aug 17, the ECP unveiled a schedule for delimitation concerning provincial and national constituencies, with the goal of completing this process by Dec 14. This decision, stemming from the recent approval of census results by the Council of Common Interests, effectively signifies that elections cannot take place in 2023.

In a written order issued by the ECP, the electoral watchdog said after the publication of the census, fresh delimitations were necessary for the true representation to the electorate, political parties and contesting candidates to protect their fundamental rights as guaranteed under Article 17(2) of the Constitution so that elections could be conducted ‘honestly, justly and fairly.

In the order of the ECP, it has been stated that the Census Bureau released the results of the census on August 7.

According to the Election Act, fresh delimitations are required after every census. It is also necessary to update the voter lists after the census.  It said that fresh delimitation of constituencies was essential to ensure the fulfilment of duty under Article 218(3) of the Constitution.

The ECP said Section 17(2) of the Elections Act, 2017, provided that the commission shall delimit constituencies after every census officially published. As per new census, there has been a change in the population at the provincial, constituency and district levels and there has been an increase of 20,805 census blocks.

The order said the arrangements mentioned in Article 218(3) were not limited to the appointment of DROs, ROs, AROs, printing of ballot papers, but also include preparation of updated electoral rolls in terms of Article 2l9(a) and delimitation of constituencies.

There were some changes and post-census demarcation and error-free voter lists were required for elections.

The Election Commission’s order further stated that without new constituencies and updated voter lists, voters, candidates and political parties would not get real representation in the assemblies.

So the ECP had decided to go for new delimitations on the basis of census.

The Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) on Friday condemned the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) decision to initiate fresh delimitations leading to the postponement of elections beyond stipulated 90-day limit.In a press release, PBC Vice Chairman Haroonur Rashid and Executive Committee chairman Hassan Raza Pasha expressed serious concerns regarding the ECP’s decision.