Tuesday July 16, 2024

ECP says general election to be held on basis of 2022 electoral rolls

The ECP said the next general elections will be held on the basis of electoral rolls issued on October 7, 2022.

By Mumtaz Alvi
January 16, 2023
The Election Commission of Pakistan building in Islamabad. The ECP website.
The Election Commission of Pakistan building in Islamabad. The ECP website.

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Sunday said the next general elections will be held on the basis of electoral rolls issued on October 7, 2022.

A spokesperson for the electoral body said this in reaction to the statements made by various politicians, including Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, with reference to delimitation of constituencies in Sindh and union councils of Islamabad.

The spokesperson said: “All allegations against the Election Commission are baseless, contrary to the law and facts. The media statement made by Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah Sahib is also wrong and tantamount to misleading the public and shows that his knowledge of the election laws is very low.

“The Election Commission is discharging its constitutional and legal responsibilities in a befitting manner. The ECP is accused of using old electoral rolls in local government elections in Karachi and Hyderabad divisions. On this, it is clarified that after the release of any election schedule, no name can be entered, excluded or corrected in the electoral rolls under Section 39 of the Elections Act, 2017.”

It was clarified that since the Election Commission had given the schedule for the second phase of local government elections on April 29, 2022, the electoral rolls were being used in the second phase of elections as per the law. “It is clarified that the electoral rolls published on October 7, 2022, will be used in the upcoming general elections,” it was noted.

Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal recently said the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) would formally hand over the 7th digital population and housing census 2022 results to the ECP, and subsequently the commission would take four months for delimitation of constituencies.

However, contrary to his statement last month, the ECP wrote to his ministry that it would be difficult for it to undertake the exercise of fresh delimitation of constituencies as per Article 51(5) of the Constitution, complete other electoral activities and conduct General Election 2023 in time as per the constitutional mandate in case official results are not provided on or before 31st of March, 2023.

Under the Delimitation of Constituencies Law, the Election Commission is bound to carry out preparation of fresh electoral rolls after every census, only after a notification and related census data is shared with it.

Referring to the statements of various politicians, the ECP clarified that delimitation of constituencies for local governments was done as per the union council data, shared by the Sindh government, while taking notice of the “irresponsible statements” of representatives of various parties on the media.

The ECP spokesperson contended that the allegations against the Election Commission on delimitation were baseless and that under Section 10 of the Sindh Local Governments Act, 2013, it was the prerogative of provincial government to provide the number of local councils (union committees or union councils) of each district.

“Therefore, the Sindh government provided the number of local councils for each district as per the notification dated December 31, 2021. According to the law, the Election Commission was obliged to do delimitation according to this number, so the Election Commission completed the work of delimitation in a transparent manner, according to the law, keeping in mind the legal requirements and merit,” the spokesperson noted.

The ECP spokesperson explained that the delimitations had nothing to do with the case in Islamabad, adding that in the federal capital case, the federal government increased the number of union councils from 101 to 125 during the election schedule. The ECP passed an order on it that the central government could not change the number of union councils after the election schedule was announced, and elections would be held as per the schedule.

Moreover, the spokesperson said the matter remained sub judice and after that the Election Commission was ready for polling in the federal capital in 7 to 10 days if the number of union councils was not changed from 101 to 125.

Meanwhile, the ECP took notice of the breaking of ballot box seals by PTI leader Firdous Shamim Naqvi, member of provincial assembly in UC-2, Tehsil Municipal Committee, Jinnah. It ordered to expel the MPA from the polling station and declared his action illegal and a violation of the code of conduct.

“…That a video clip is being shown on electronic media, wherein Mr. Firdous Shamim Naqvi… is breaking the seals of ballot boxes at polling station of UC-02, TMC Jinnah, which is illegal and against the code of conduct. The competent authority has taken serious notice of the illegal act and has directed that above member of Provincial Assembly may be expelled from the said polling station and report in the subject matter may be furnished to this office immediately,” the notice issued by PEC Sindh said.

In a related development, the Election Commission took notice of advertisements run by the Sindh government on TV channels in which various development schemes have been mentioned in the advertisements. “Today, on the polling day of the local bodies elections, these advertisements are a violation of the code of conduct.” It directed Pemra to stop the advertisements from being broadcast for today.

The Election Commission has issued a notice to the Sindh information secretary for running an advertisement campaign from the state exchequer during the local bodies elections in the province and violating the code of conduct.

Through the notice, the Sindh information secretary has been directed to appear before the office of the Joint Provincial Election Commissioner on Monday and give an explanation and said that if he fails to appear, the matter would be sent to the Election Commission for further action.

As polling began in Karachi and Hyderabad, the ECP issued a statement from Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, in which he called on patriotic people of Karachi and Hyderabad to express their faith in democracy by participating in local bodies’ elections.

He said the special secretary and secretary ECP were monitoring the elections from the Sindh Provincial Election Commission’s office, while a Central Control Room had been set up in the Election Commission Secretariat, which would remain active day and night.

“In case of any complaint, the public should file them in the Monitoring and Complaint Cell at the Central and Provincial Election Commissioner Sindh office in Karachi,” he added.

He issued directives to the Election Commission to ensure that any kind of interference and mischief in the election process is strictly dealt with.