ECP assures to finish delimitation prcoess, electoral rolls in tandem

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The ECP building in Islamabad. Photo: The News/File
The ECP building in Islamabad. Photo: The News/File
  • ECP assures transparent and fair general elections.
  • ECP and PML-N also agree to keep election expenses under control.
  • PML-N notes delimitation schedule in accordance with Constitution.

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) said that it would work on the delimitation of constituencies and updating the voters’ list simultaneously to complete electoral work in the shortest possible time so that the upcoming general elections could be held at the earliest, The News reported on Saturday

The electoral body’s resolve came during a meeting with a six-member Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) delegation wherein consultations were held on the electoral roadmap.

The moot was part of ECP’s decision, taken on August 23, to hold consultations with all major political parties in the country to address reservations about delay in upcoming general elections.

On August 17, the Election Commission announced the schedule of the delimitation process to be carried out as per the new census approved by the Council of Common Interests (CCI) earlier this month.

The ECP schedule showed that fresh delimitation would take nearly four months, which translates to general elections not being held within 90 days of the dissolution of the provincial and national assemblies – a violation of the Constitution.

The six-member PML-N delegation — comprising Ahsan Iqbal, Rana Sanaullah, Zahid Hamid, Azam Nazeer Tarar, Ataullah Tarar and Asad Junejo — met Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja and other officials for consultations on the electoral road map.

During the meeting, the PML-N contented the CCI had unanimously approved the results of the census and its publication, as all the political parties had agreed that the 2023 elections would be held on the new census. 

The PML-N noted that the delimitation schedule issued by the ECP is in accordance with the Constitution and law.

At the same time, they suggested that the process of renewal of electoral rolls should also be done along with the delimitation so that the process was completed in a single phase and there was no delay in conducting the general elections.

Furthermore, the PML-N team proposed that media campaigns should be run by the party rather than the candidate. The delegation stressed that the ECP officers, district returning officers and returning officers should perform their duties impartially.

The PML-N also wanted a ban imposed on hate speech and an effective check on poll expenses.

On this occasion, CEC Raja gave the electoral body’s categorical assurance on the matter of categorical assurance on delimitations and electoral rolls. He said the ECP would consult all the political parties as per the law on the model code of conduct and after that, it would be finalised.

The ECP assured the visitors that the elections would be transparent and fair and that all parties would get a level playing field.

Raja added that strict legal action would be taken against those who violate the code of conduct for which the monitoring wing had been further strengthened. The ECP and PML-N also agreed to keep election expenses under control.

After the meeting, senior PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal told the media that suggestions had been given to keep election expenses under control, and the ECP agreed with their suggestion.

He said proposals were given to the commission for transparency during different election phases and the ECP assured that it would discharge its duties in line with the Constitution and law for the early conduct of elections.

The former planning minister further said that after the approval of the census by the CCI, it was a constitutional and legal prerequisite to carry out delimitations for which the commission was constitutionally bound to ensure ‘one vote for one person’.

He explained his party gave proposals for early completion of delimitations for holding of earlier electoral process.

Iqbal added that the commission should make the code of conduct effective to curtail poll expenses. The PML-N leader also said they drew the attention of the commission towards transparency in elections, contrary to the 2018 elections when RTS was ‘misused’.

The commission assured them that an automatic system was being worked out to monitor elections as well as compilation of results to ensure transparency and to address the complaints, he added.

Adding to Iqbal, Tarar said that the ECP should complete the process of delimitation 15 to 20 days before announcing the election schedule. A new voters list can be compiled alongside, and the election schedule can be issued by completing the delimitation of constituencies by November, according to the Constitution and law. 

He said that the ECP responded positively to PML-N proposals.

To a question, the former law minister said that the meeting of the US ambassador with the Election Commission officials was of a different matter. He asserted that elections were Pakistan’s internal matter.

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