- Circumstances demand fresh delimitation, it says
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has informed President Dr Arif Alvi that "free and fair elections" cannot be held until October 2022 as the forum needs at least four months for preparations, Aaj News reported on Thursday.
Responding to the President’s letter, the ECP said that delimitation is one of the foundation steps toward general elections, adding that work on the delimitation process was halted due to the delay from the government.
It pointed out that the number of National Assembly constituencies had reduced from 272 to 266 after the merger of the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the reduction of seats in tribal areas from 12 to six.
The ECP said that these circumstances demand fresh delimitation, which was not possible in the absence of official census results.
It said the chief election commissioner had written a letter to Imran Khan on May 7, 2020, inviting his attention to the issue and seeking his intervention to get the official results notified.
The commission said that it had also written letters to other relevant quarters including the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs as well as secretaries of the Senate, National Assembly, and the Bureau of Statistics.
The process of delimitation finally began after the official census results were notified on May 7, 2021, but it was stopped after the government announced that it would go for the fresh digital census, the ECP said, adding that the commission had also written letters to the government on Dec 30, 2021, and January 21, 2022, urging it to expedite the census process, which, it said, went unheeded.
Earlier, President Arif Alvi had asked the ECP to propose dates for holding general elections under Article 224 (2) of the Constitution.
The development comes days after National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri rejected a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan and the dissolution of the lower house of the parliament by President Alvi.