The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has announced its intention to work on the delimitation of constituencies concurrently and updating voter lists. This initiative aims to expedite electoral processes so that the upcoming general elections can be conducted promptly. This commitment was highlighted during a consultative meeting with a six-member Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz delegation (PML-N) delegation. The consultation, held on August 23, focused on addressing concerns regarding potential delays in the forthcoming general elections.
On August 17, the ECP unveiled a schedule for the delimitation process, consistent with the newly ratified census by the Council of Common Interests (CCI). According to this schedule, the delimitation would span around four months. This duration indicates a potential constitutional breach, as the general elections would surpass the 90-day window after the dissolution of provincial and national assemblies.
PML-N’s Suggestions and ECP’s Response
The PML-N delegation, including prominent members such as Ahsan Iqbal and Rana Sanaullah, emphasized the unanimity of political parties in holding the 2023 elections based on the new census. They endorsed the ECP’s delimitation schedule, stressing its alignment with constitutional mandates. Moreover, the PML-N proposed simultaneous voter roll updates with delimitation to ensure a consolidated and efficient electoral procedure. They further suggested that election campaigns should focus on the party rather than individual candidates.
Another pressing concern was impartiality. The PML-N urged that ECP officials and returning officers maintain neutrality during elections. They also called for prohibiting hate speech and effective oversight of election expenditures and proposed that election-related media campaigns be managed at the party level.
CEC Sikander Sultan Raja provided firm assurances about the delimitation process and voter list updates. He emphasized the transparency and fairness of the upcoming elections, guaranteeing a level playing field for all contesting parties. He further assured of stringent actions against code of conduct breaches.
After the discussions, Ahsan Iqbal, a senior PML-N leader, conveyed the party’s recommendations for controlling election expenses, emphasizing that the ECP agreed. Iqbal also highlighted the significance of transparency throughout the election phases. He referenced the 2018 elections, critiquing the misuse of the RTS system and commended the ECP’s move towards an automated system for monitoring elections.
Echoing Iqbal, Tarar accentuated the need to complete the delimitation process well before the election announcement. He suggested that the ECP finish delimitations by November, per legal and constitutional directives. When asked about the US ambassador’s recent meeting with Election Commission officials, Tarar clarified it as unrelated and asserted that Pakistan’s elections were strictly internal.