ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Friday issued the schedule for general election, fixed for May 11.
The schedule was made public after Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim gave approval to it and it also bears signatures of the four Election Commission Members.
The president on March 20 fixed the date for general elections and the presidential statement mentioned only the election for the National Assembly, as a complete picture regarding four provincial legislatures was not clear by that time.
However, as the four legislatures stand dissolved now, polling for the National Assembly and the assemblies of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Balochistan will be held simultaneously i.e. May 11.
A notification to this effect says the Election Commission has called upon the electorates of the National Assembly constituencies and the constituencies of the provincial assemblies to elect their representatives from each of these constituencies to the general seats on May 11.
In its tentative schedule, earlier, the Election Commission had proposed filing of the nomination papers from March 25. However, in the final schedule, it is to begin this process a day earlier now and hence other dates were also readjusted accordingly and last date for filing papers is March 29. Now the returning officers will issue public notices on March 23.
The scrutiny of the nomination papers will be held from March 30 to April 05. Persons, intending to contest the elections, will have the opportunity to file appeal from April 06 to 09 in case of rejection of their papers.
The last date for deciding appeals has been fixed for April 16 and it will be followed by the option of withdrawal of candidature on April 17 while the final list of candidates will be issued on April 18 and this will then unleash hectic electioneering by respective parties and their candidates.
The schedule, the Election Commission noted, shall also apply to the seats reserved for women and non-Muslims in the National Assembly and provincial assemblies of the four provinces.
The offices of the Election Commission Secretariat, the district returning officers and returning officers will remain open on March 23, 24, 30 and 31.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission has made readjustments in the boundaries of as many as eleven constituencies in Karachi, as proposed by the Sindh Election Commission recently through its five-member committee, headed by Provincial Election Commissioner Mehboob Anwar. Readjustments have been made in the National Assembly’s NA-239, NA-250 and NA-254 and in PS-89, 112, 113, 114,115, 116, 118 and 124, an ECP source told this correspondent.
As the registration of voters was on till late night, and will continue on Saturday afternoon, hence the final figure of registered voters will be available by the evening, a source told The News.
APP adds: Meanwhile the Election Commission categorically said that the candidates having defaulted even in minor amount to any department including the parliamentary lodges would be ineligible to contest polls.
Talking to reporters outside the ECP, Additional Secretary Afzal Khan said the Election Commission has been connected with National Database and Registration Authority, National Accountability Bureau, State Bank of Pakistan and Federal Board of Revenue.
He said all four institutions would be bound to scrutinize the nomination papers within 12 hours after the ECP forwards the cases. He said the ECP has made preparation for the scrutiny of the applications and almost 99 percent of the task would be carried out through internet.
He said out of 127 districts, internet facility was available in 117 that would help carry out the scrutiny expeditiously.Afzal Khan said the members of the now-dissolved assemblies would be declared eligible to contest the election only if they clear all dues of the MNA and MPA hostels.
He said the ECP has already dispatched letters to the Provincial Election Commissioners, District Election Commissioners and other officers to convey their responsibilities.To a question, the additional secretary said the scrutiny of the nomination papers would start after the announcement of the election schedule as a Special Scrutiny Room has been set up at the Election Commission.