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Sunday July 14, 2024

Final list of fresh constituencies for elections on Nov 30

ECP holds meeting on preparations for general elections as date for staging the polls draws closer

By Nausheen Yusuf
November 23, 2023
A security personnel stands guard at the headquarters of Election Commission of Pakistan in Islamabad. — AFP/File
A security personnel stands guard at the headquarters of Election Commission of Pakistan in Islamabad. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is set to announce the fresh delimitation of constituencies for the elections on November 30, the electoral body said after a meeting on the arrangements for impending general polls.

The much-awaited general elections of 2024 had been a bone of contention between the political parties and the polls governing authority for months until the latter finally announced the date of polls last month.

The ECP, pursuant to the directions of the Supreme Court, had announced that general elections would be held on February 8, 2024 — ending months of ambiguity surrounding the poll date.

The top electoral body announced the election date after consulting with President Arif Alvi on the apex court's three-member bench's directions given while hearing multiple pleas seeking timely elections within 90 days.

"The election commission is ready to conduct the polls," the ECP stated in an official statement regarding a meeting on the preparations for the general elections.

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja headed the meeting while the Commission members, the ECP secretary, and the provincial election commissioners attended it.

The meeting was apprised that the ECP has completed hearings on all the objections filed on the preliminary delimitation of constituencies and the final list of the fresh constituencies in the light of the commission's decision will be issued on November 30.

The ECP had received over 1,300 objections on preliminary delimitation of constituencies by the end of October.

The statement read that the printing of final electoral rolls is underway in the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) and their delivery to the relevant constituencies will be ensured by the start of the election programme.

It said that the ECP has given the approval for the election code of conduct after the consultations with the political parties as per the law, and an official notification for this will be issued in a few days.

Moreover, the meeting was told that the plan for training the district returning officers, returning officers and polling staff is ready and its timely implementation will also be ensured.

The ECP statement said that all the necessary arrangements have been made for the printing of the ballot papers, while the purchase of election material has also been completed.

It further stated that the ECP expressed satisfaction over the arrangements that have been made so far and directed that a proper mechanism should be devised for the supply of electoral rolls to the ROs to ensure the timely provision of the material

It also ordered the relevant authorities to ensure law and order during the polls and take details, from the provincial governments regarding the deployment of law enforcement agencies (LEAs) for the peaceful conduct of the elections, which should be taken within a week.

In case of a lack of police personnel, alternate arrangements for security should be ensured.

Moreover, the services of the Pakistan Army should also be taken during the conduct of elections to ensure the security of the people while exercising their right to vote.

The country has been gripped in political uncertainty ever since the Imran Khan government was removed through a no-confidence motion in April 2022.

A coalition government that took over after Imran Khan's ouster dissolved the National Assembly on August 9 of this year.

Following the premature dissolution of national and provincial assemblies, the ECP was required to hold elections within the 90-day time period, meaning the polls should take place no later than November 6.

However, the ECP said it was constitutionally bound to draw fresh boundaries ahead of the elections as the Council of Common Interest (CCI) had approved the census, hence holding elections within the stipulated time period was not possible.

Key political parties including Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), and others urged the ECP to hold polls at the earliest to end prevailing uncertainty in the country.

But in September the uncertainty ended to an extent after the Election Commission announced that it would hold polls in the country in the last week of January.

In the same month, the ECP also released the provisional report on the delimitation of constituencies based on the recently concluded census moving a step closer to the most sought-after general elections.