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ISLAMABAD: Federal government, Thursday, said it would hold fresh population census across the country and a proposal is under consideration to share the census results with Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) by December 31 next year.

In a top-level meeting with Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja in chair, Member Planning Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) informed the meeting that the government was taking steps for the fresh population census and a roadmap was being prepared for this purpose.

It is under consideration that the results of fresh population census would be shared with the ECP by 2022 yearend, he said. The Member Planning PBS said there is no significant difference in the provisional and final results of the population census 2017.

The meeting was held to review the scenario involving delimitation of constituencies for Provincial and National Assemblies in the light of 24th and 25th Constitutional Amendments.

The meeting also reviewed the scenario regarding delimitation of constituencies after the approval of the results of population census 2017 by the CCI. Special Secretary ECP Zafar Iqbal Hussain briefed the meeting that 12 seats of National Assembly would require to be abolished in the light of 25th Constitutional Amendment with effect from next general elections, following the merger of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. This, he said, would require fresh delimitation exercise for National Assembly seats.

Likewise, he said, the establishment of 16 seats in KP Assembly, following FATA's merger into KP, would require fresh delimitation of constituencies in the KP Assembly.

Secretary Law and Justice Raja Naeem Akbar and Secretary Parliamentary Affairs Shakeel Malik briefed the meeting that the issues related to notification of population census results following their approval by Council of Common Interests (CCI) and fresh constituencies' delimitation in National and provincial legislatures have been put up before the federal government for its consideration.

The situation would be clear after the cabinet's decision-whether or not the number of NA seats would be reduced with effect from fresh general elections, the meeting was briefed.

ECP inquired from the Secretary Law whether it can launch a fresh delimitation drive after the results of population census 2017 have been notified.

The Secretary responded that Law Ministry can give its opinion only after the cabinet holds a meeting on the matter and the minutes of the related meeting are issued.

Both the Secretary Law and Secretary Parliamentary Affairs were of the view that the ECP was constitutionally empowered to take any appropriate decision regarding delimitation of constituencies.

They assured the electoral body that federal government would provide complete assistance to the Commission in this regard. The ECP decided to wait for federal cabinet's decision regarding the number of National Assembly seats and delimitation of constituencies.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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