Thursday February 29, 2024

ECP sets aside ‘baseless’ reports of delay in Feb 8 polls

Top election organising authority vows to take action against those spreading misleading reports

November 29, 2023
A security personnel stands guard at the headquarters of Election Commission of Pakistan in Islamabad on September 21, 2023. — AFP
A security personnel stands guard at the headquarters of Election Commission of Pakistan in Islamabad on September 21, 2023. — AFP

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has asserted that the general polls in the country would take place at its scheduled time and set aside speculations regarding a delay in the elections slated to be held on February 8 next year.

In a statement on Wednesday, an ECP spokesperson referred to the “baseless reports” warning that legal action would be initiated against those spreading misleading news regarding electoral exercise.

Earlier this month, the country's top poll organising authority announced February 8, 2024, as the election date following consultation with President Arif Alvi on the Supreme Court's direction.

Since the announcement of the election date, rumours that the tenure of the caretaker setup would be extended died down, and all political parties welcomed the development.

However, despite the announcement by the election watchdog, some political leaders and analysts continued casting doubts that the election would take place in the country on time.

A spokesperson for the ECP, in a statement today, termed the media reports regarding election delay as “baseless and misleading”.

The statement said a report claiming that the voters’ lists were not being prepared is "completely false".

The spokesperson further said that it has approached the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to take legal action against those "spreading misleading news".

The poll authority has also sought transcripts and recordings of the news regarding election delay broadcast on various channels, as per the statement.

In another statement, the election commission said the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) was printing the final voter list.

“The distribution of the list has also begun in several districts,” the commission said, rebutting reports of the voter list not being ready yet.

The general elections in the country were supposed to be held within 90 days of the premature dissolution of the assemblies by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM)-led government in August this year.

However, the approval of the latest census results led to the delay in elections as the ECP said it was bound to carry out the new delimitation of the constituencies to fulfll the “constitutional obligation”.

Following the meeting of the ECP officials last week, the electoral body had announced that the final list of the freshly defined constituencies for the upcoming polls will be released on November 30, moving another step closer to the much-awaited general elections of 2024.

The meeting was apprised that the ECP had 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 poll watchdog 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 Nadra and their delivery to the relevant constituencies will be ensured by the start of the election programme.