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ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has revised the completion date of the delimitation drive for two weeks — from December 14 to November 30 –what still appears to be an indication that the commission would fail to hold the general elections in the country within the constitutionally-mandated 90-day period.

The decision to revise the delimitation date was taken in the meeting presided over by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, here on Friday.

The meeting was held against the backdrop of demands from different political parties to reduce the duration for delimitation exercise and issue the general elections’ schedule forthwith.

Elections may take place before February 2024 if delimitations are completed sooner: ECP

However, the electoral body decided that the polls’ schedule would be issued after the completion of delimitation exercise — and only revised the delimitation date.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Balochistan National Party (BNP), Awami National Party (ANP) and Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) have supported timely polls’ demand.

On the other hand, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazal (JUI-F), Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) and Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) have supported the delimitation exercise, skipping the timely general polls demand, in their respective meetings with the ECP officials in the recent days.

The ECP drew the ire of public and political circles for “unilaterally” deciding to launch the delimitation of constituencies of the assemblies on August 17—without taking any political party on board.

The commission then invited the political parties for holding separate meetings with the electoral body’s management to discuss issues related to the general polls including elections’ schedule, date and delimitation.

The National Assembly was dissolved on the last month’s 9th—whereas general polls are required to be held not later than November 7 this year, within the 90-day period mandated by the constitution.

Sindh and Balochistan legislatures were also dissolved last month.

Article 224(2) provides that when the NA or a provincial assembly is dissolved, a general election to the assembly shall be held within a period of 90 days after the dissolution, and the results of the election shall be declared not later than 14 days after the conclusion of the polls.

The general elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are already witnessing inordinate delay – keeping in view that both the provincial legislatures were dissolved in January this year and respective caretaker governments are since running the affairs of the two provinces.

The CEC has claimed in his meetings with the political parties’ representatives that the ECP intends to reduce the duration of the delimitation drive and announce the general polls’ schedule immediately after the completion of the delimitation exercise.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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