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ISLAMABAD: Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday announced that it had launched constituencies’ delimitation drive across the country for general elections by freezing the administrative units in the entire country — a scenario that implies that no administrative unit can be set up till the completion of the exercise involving the constituencies for national and provincial assemblies.

According to a notification issued by electoral body, freezing of the boundaries of administrative units stood effective throughout Pakistan from April 11 (Monday) whereas the final list of delimited constituencies would be issued on August 3.

Earlier on Friday, the ECP, in a meeting, decided to launch and complete the delimitation drive related to general elections within four months on “emergency basis”— on the notified results of population census 2017. The electoral body decided that it would not wait for the new digital census that was to be launched by federal government. It decided to seek the required data from the provincial governments, regarding their respective constituencies.

The meeting directed the senior ECP officials to place before the commission the action plan on general elections on the coming Wednesday (tomorrow).

In the same meeting, the ECP accused the Punjab government of trying to create hurdles in holding local government elections in the country’s largest province by not releasing funds. In this context, the commission has summoned federal secretary finance and chief secretary Punjab soon.

Last Wednesday, President Arif Alvi, through a letter, sought the date from the electoral body for holding general elections, within 90 days of the dissolution of NA, under Article 48(5) (A) and Article 224(2) of the constitution.

In response, the commission responded that general elections were not possible before October this year and it needed four months to complete the delimitation drive in order to hold the general polls within 90 days. However, the Supreme Court has declared as unconstitutional the dissolution of NA and has restored the lower house of the Parliament.

According to ECP, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA’s) merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 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 the constituencies of NA.

The ECP says 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 a digital population census following which, the ECP said, it halted its delimitation drive that has now been launched.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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