ecp cites technical hurdles, rules out elections within 90 days
Amidst the clamor for swift elections in Pakistan, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has dampened hopes of a quick electoral process within the constitutionally mandated 90 days. Even if the delimitation exercise is halted, a senior ECP official stated that holding elections in this short timeframe is technically unfeasible, as reported by The News.
The call for elections within 90 days gained momentum following the dissolution of the National Assembly three days before its term was set to expire. While some political parties and non-governmental organizations pushed for elections by November 07 to meet constitutional requirements, the ECP official outlined the practical challenges involved.
According to the official, announcing an election date triggers a series of activities outlined in Section 57 of the Elections Act 2017. These include creating an election schedule, accepting and scrutinizing nomination papers, addressing appeals against acceptance or rejection, and organizing election campaigns and monitoring.
The ECP’s decision to initiate fresh constituency delimitation following the first ever digital census was also defended by the official. The decision was taken after after a full examination of the laws and the Constitution and judgments from the superior authority
While some political parties like PTI and ANP insist on adhering to the 90-day limit, others like Pattan and Coalition38, representing civil society organizations and labor unions, oppose the delayed polls. They argue that the ECP’s announcement of holding polls in late January 2024 violates Article 48(5a) of the Constitution, which mandates elections within 90 days of assembly dissolution.
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They have criticized the ECP for eroding public trust by deviating from its own goals and violating orders from superior courts. They also expressed concerns about the ECP’s decision to prioritize delimitation over timely elections.
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In their joint statement, these groups called on the ECP to refrain from using the contested population census results for delimitation and instead focus on conducting elections in November. They asked the highest court to make sure that everyone follows Article 48(5a). They also wanted the court to make sure that there are fair rules for elections so that all political groups have an equal chance to compete.