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ISLAMABAD: With general polls seemingly nowhere in sight this year—the electoral body on Thursday reviewed progress on the ongoing delimitation of the constituencies of the assemblies.

To this effect, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) held a meeting to review allocation of quota for the general seats of the national and provincial legislatures.

Following the completion of their training, the respective delimitation committees have started working in the districts across the country, the meeting was briefed.

ECP says 3,600 data entry operators to be assigned to ROs

Separately, a mock exercise was held involving the working of the Result Compilation System. This system envisages the transmission of election results from the presiding officers to the returning officers using a mobile phone application.

Recently, the poll organisation has been holding extensive meetings on general elections—apparently to defuse public and political criticism over its failure in holding the general elections within the 90-day period mandated by the constitution.

Last month, Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja declined an invitation from President Dr Arif Alvi for a meeting over the issue of choosing a date for general polls, dismissing such a meeting as of “scant consequence,” asserting that the electoral body, not the president, was empowered to pick the general elections’ date— under the prevailing circumstances.

“Where the president dissolves the National Assembly, in his discretion, as provided in Article 58(2) read with Article 48(5) of the constitution, then he has to appoint a date for the general elections.

However, if, the assembly is dissolved on the advice of the prime minister, or by afflux of time, as provided in Article 58(1) of the constitution, then the commission understands and believes that the power to appoint a date or dates for elections rests exclusively with the commission,“ the CEC stated in a letter written in reply to the president’s invitation letter.

The letter said the NA was dissolved by the president in terms of Article 58(1) of the constitution, on the advice of the PM, through the summary dated August 9.

After being amended by the Parliament in June this year, the Section 57(1) of Elections Act 2017 empowers the ECP to announce date(s) for the general election(s).

Previously, under this section, the president had the power to announce the date(s) of the general election(s) after consultation with the commission.

The Article 58(1) of the constitution provides that the president shall dissolve the NA, if so advised by the PM; and the NA shall, unless sooner dissolved, stand dissolved at the expiration of 48 hours after the PM has so advised.

The Article 58(2) reads that the president may also dissolve the NA in his discretion where, a vote of no-confidence having been passed against the PM, no other member of the NA commands the confidence of the majority of the house members.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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