To ensure early elections, ECP shortens delimitation time frame

Islamabad: Following extensive consultations with political parties, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) made an announcement on Friday, stating that the delimitation process will be finalized by November 30.

In a statement, the electoral body explained that they aim to expedite the delimitation process to ensure that elections can be held as early as possible.

The ECP also mentioned that the election date will be determined in consideration of the delimitation schedule, and this date was established after discussions with the political parties.

A day prior to this announcement, the Election Commission had indicated that elections would take place no later than mid-February or potentially by the end of January if the constituency delimitation process concludes ahead of schedule.

The Election Commission engaged in discussions with various political parties, including the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Muttahida Qoumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), Jamiat Ulema Islam-Faiz (JUI-F), and others to outline the roadmap for the upcoming general elections.

During these meetings, the JUI-F, PML-N, and MQM-P expressed support for holding general elections after completing the delimitation, while the PTI and PPP urged the electoral watchdog to skip the process and hold polls within 90 days.

On August 17, the ECP had initially announced a schedule for new delimitations to align with the recent census approved by the Council of Common Interest (CCI) the previous month.

The initial schedule indicated that the new delimitation of constituencies would be completed in December. However, this timeframe has now been shortened to November.

In the prior month, the CCI meeting, led by the then-prime minister Shehbaz Sharif, officially approved the final results of the 7th Population and Housing Census 2023, which reported the country’s population as 241.49 million with a growth rate of 2.55%.

This CCI approval made it constitutionally obligatory for the ECP to conduct elections based on fresh delimitations using the results of the 7th census.

Article 51 (5) of the Constitution specifies that seats in the National Assembly for each province and the federal capital must be allocated based on population according to the most recent officially published census.

The previous government, led by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), dissolved the national and provincial assemblies of Sindh and Balochistan prematurely to enable the ECP to hold elections in the country within 90 days, instead of the standard 60 days, if the legislature completed its constitutional tenure.

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