ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) clarified uncertainties regarding the upcoming general elections on Wednesday, providing assurance to the Awami National Party (ANP) that the elections would take place no later than mid-February or by the end of January if constituency delimitation is finalized earlier.
This affirmation followed separate consultative meetings between the ANP, Balochistan National Party (BNP), Balochistan Awami Party (BAP), and ECP officials to discuss the roadmap leading to the general election.
Chairing the meetings, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja was joined by commission members, the secretary, and senior ECP officers.
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The ANP delegation, led by Secretary General Mian Iftikhar Hussain, included central spokesperson Zahid Khan, Khushdil Khan, Advocate, and Abdul Rahim Wazir, Advocate.
From BAP, Naseebullah, Manzoor Kakar, Noor Muhammad Domar, and Sardar Abdul Rehman Khetran participated, while BNP was represented by Abdul Karim Noshrawani, Sana Jamali, and Danesh Kumar.
ANP leaders conveyed that the commission assured them of expediting the delimitation process as much as possible. The commission also guaranteed that the elections would not extend beyond mid-February.
In accordance with a commission statement, the ANP team emphasized the importance of setting a date and schedule for the electoral process if conducting the election within 90 days wasn’t feasible. They stressed that the election must adhere to the 90-day constitutional requirement, and the ECP should have consulted political parties prior to initiating delimitation, as the commission couldn’t alter the seat distribution among provinces dictated by the Constitution. Consequently, the need for new delimitation was negated.
They contended that the ECP could only adjust seats within each province, given the commission’s constitutional role, and they expressed their unwavering trust in the commission’s judgment.
Hence, the ANP urged that the delimitation decision made by the commission must have been well-considered. Consequently, they requested the announcement of the election date and schedule to ensure satisfaction among political parties and the public.
CEC Sikandar Sultan Raja revealed that the delimitation work was initially scheduled to conclude in 120 days on December 14, 2023, after which the election schedule would be promptly disclosed. He hinted at the possibility of shortening the constituency duration and announcing the election schedule in the coming days.
The BAP delegation endorsed the ECP’s delimitation decision, underlining that, with the publication of census results, refraining from delimitation aligned with the new census would undermine political parties, candidates, and the public. They expressed unreserved confidence in the ECP, citing favorable decisions made by the commission in the past.
BNP representative Agha Hassan Baloch urged the ECP to strive for elections within 90 days. He criticized the accuracy of the new census, suggesting that Balochistan’s population had been underestimated. Thus, he asserted that new delimitation was unnecessary and that if the ECP deemed it vital, corrections should be applied.
The CEC assured the delegations that the commission was committed to promptly conducting elections by shortening the delimitation period.
Speaking to media outside the ECP, Mian Iftikhar affirmed that the electoral body had guaranteed an accelerated completion of constituency delimitation, ensuring that the general election would transpire no later than mid-February.