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ISLAMABAD: Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has held the former federal government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) responsible for the lingering delay in the completion of National Assemblies’ constituencies’ delimitation drive for general elections that was launched on account of reduction of NA general seats from 272 to 266 (to be effective from next NA) due to FATA’s (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Recently, former government functionaries including Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Fawad Chaudhry, Farrukh Habib and other stressed upon the electoral body to play its role in ensuring that the general elections were held timely, following the dissolution of NA, although a case related to the matter is pending in the Supreme Court.

In response, the electoral body, on Wednesday, said, it is determined to play its role mandated in the constitution. “But other institutions and individuals should also fulfil their legal and constitutional responsibilities and avoid unnecessary criticism,” the commission said in a statement.

FATA’s merger with KP resulted into the reduction of related NA seats from 12 to six, reducing the general NA seats from 272 to 266 which necessitated the need to launch afresh the exercise to delimit constituencies of NA, the statement added.

The electoral body mentioned of at least 11 letters, which, the commission said, it wrote to Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Law and Justice, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, Senate Secretariat, NA Secretariat and Bureau of Statistics from May 2020 to January 2021 to notify the provisional results of population census 2017 in order to start the delimitation exercise.

According to ECP, the delimitation exercise was launched after the results of population census 2017 were finally notified on May 6, 2021. However, the government decided to launch afresh digital population census following which, the ECP said, it halted its delimitation drive.

The digital population census drive had not been completed till date due to which the constituencies’ delimitation drive was also pending, the commission said.

In August last year, the federal government informed the ECP that it was preparing a roadmap for launching fresh population census across the country and that a proposal was under consideration to share the census results with ECP by December 31 this year.

The government shared this plan with ECP in a high-level meeting between the two sides.

The government side briefed the ECP that there was no significant difference in the provisional and final results of population census 2017. The meeting was held to review the scenario involving delimitation of constituencies for assemblies in the light of 24th and 25th Constitutional Amendments.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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