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Pakistan: Election Commission pledges to hold national elections by mid-February after delimitations

ANP leaders said that the ECP assured them of squeezing the timelines of delimitation and that the general elections would not go beyond mid-February.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee Islamabad Published on: August 31, 2023 15:01 IST
Pakistan interim PM Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar with President Arif
Image Source : AP Pakistan interim PM Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar with President Arif Alvi

Pakistan national elections: Pakistan's top electoral watchdog on Wednesday assured the Awami National Party (ANP) that the upcoming general elections will be held by January end or mid-February at the most following the conclusion of the delimitation of new constitutency boundaries at the earliest.

The ANP, Balochistan National Party (BNP) and the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) held separate consultative meetings with the officials of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) earlier on the roadmap to the general elections previously scheduled for November, Geo News reported

According to ANP leaders, the commission assured them of squeezing the timelines of delimitation to the maximum possible extent. The commission also assured them that the elections would not go beyond mid-February. The ANP team insisted on the date and schedule for the electoral exercise, if conducting the election within 90 days was not feasible.

However, the ANP delegation noted that the ECP should have consulted political parties before announcing the schedule for upcoming delimitations.

Delay in Pakistan's national elections

It is worth mentioning that following the dissolution of the National Assembly on August 9, the national elections are constitutionally mandated to take place within 90 days. However, the ECP announced the schedule of new delimitations to be carried out as per the new census. The census was approved by Pakistan's Council of Common Interest (CCI) this month. 

The latest schedule published by the Electoral Commission of Pakistan (ECP) shows that fresh delimitation of the constituencies will take at least four months, making it impossible for the elections to be conducted in 90 days. The delimitations will be held across Pakistan from September 8 to October 7.

The ECP could only accommodate seats within the province and that the commission was a constitutional body and they had full faith in it, said the ANP team. They have called for the date and schedule for the elections to be announced soon so that political parties could be satisfied.

The BAP delegation supported the ECP decision to carry out delimitation and members of the delegation said that because the results of the census had been published, saying that not going for delimitations would be an "insult" to political parties, the candidates and the public.

Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja also assured the delegations that the commission would ensure immediate elections after reducing the duration of delimitation.

US on 'free and fair' elections in Pakistan

Earlier, the  United States on Tuesday has urged Pakistan to hold 'timely, free and fair' elections that were earlier scheduled for later this year in the cash-strapped country but are likely to get postponed.

US acting Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland spoke to Pakistan's interim Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani on Tuesday and congratulated him on his appointment, according to a press release by the State Department. 

"They discussed broadening and deepening the US-Pakistan partnership on issues of mutual concern, including Pakistan’s economic stability, prosperity, and continued engagement with the IMF. Acting Deputy Secretary Nuland and Foreign Minister Jilani discussed the importance of timely, free and fair elections in a manner consistent with Pakistan’s laws and constitution," read the release.

Pakistan's National Assembly was dissolved on August 9 and former Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif resigned ahead of the completion of the government's tenure. This paved the way for a caretaker regime in Pakistan to oversee the national elections.

Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar was then appointed by President Arif Alvi as Pakistan's eighth caretaker PM to run the country till the elections.

Pakistan is currently in the midst of a political turmoil that stems from the ouster of former PM Imran Khan in 2022. Khan, who was imprisoned in the Toshakhana corruption case, has been granted bail but will remain behind bars till September 13 following his involvement in a cipher case. He has also been barred for contesting elections for five years.

Khan's return to politics now hinges on getting his Toshakhana conviction reversed.

ALSO READ | Pakistan: Ex-Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi sent to 14-day judicial remand in cipher case

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