Long-standing speculations over the delay in Pakistan's upcoming general elections appear to be confirmed as the country's top electoral watchdog on Thursday 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) in early August. 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 final publication of the new delimitation will be done on December this year, while the upcoming general elections were scheduled in November. The delimitations will be held across Pakistan from September 8 to October 7.
According to the schedule published by the ECP, administrative matters related to the constituencies will be completed by August 31 and the constitution of delimitation committee for each province, including Islamabad, should be completed by August 21. As per the Election Act, 2017, the ECP is bound to draw new boundaries for hundreds of provincial and national assembly constituencies across the country.
Pakistan dissolved the National Assembly on August 9, three days before the completion of its tenure. This paved the way for a caretaker regime to oversee the general elections and allowed the polls to be conducted within 90 days.
About the CCI-approved census
A CCI meeting in early August by former Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had approved the final results of the seventh Population and Housing Census 2023 that reported the country's population at 241.49 million with a growth rate of 2.55%, reported Geo News.
Now the Election Commission is constitutionally obligated to hiold the elections after fresh delimitations in light of the new census. As per the Pakistani Constitution, the seats of the National Assembly to each province and federal capital should be allocated on the basis of population in accordance with the last preceding census.
Former Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said that elections in the country can be delayed until March next year owing to the delimitation of the constituencies.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) of Pakistan filed a petition in the apex court on Wednesday seeking its orders for the ECP to announce a date for the upcoming polls to the national and provincial authorities and pleaded to suspend the CCI approval.
The SCBA also contended that interim Chief Ministers were not eligible for the meeting that took place on August 5.