Criticism mounts as ECP delays announcement of election date
- Web Desk
- Sep 23, 2023
ISLAMABAD: Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is facing severe criticism for not announcing a specific date for the upcoming general elections.
According to Dawn.com, a senior official from the ECP said that it is “not technically possible” to provide a date due to the formal process’s details that must adhere to specific timelines.
Under Section 57 of the Elections Act, the announcement of an election date triggers a series of events, including the issuance of an election schedule, which sets the electoral cycle in motion. The cycle includes various stages, such as the submission of nomination papers, their scrutiny, and decisions and appeals regarding their acceptance or rejection, all of which have strict deadlines.
Meanwhile, civil society organisations and labour unions, represented by PATTAN and Coalition38, issued a joint statement expressing regret over the ECP’s vague statement regarding the general elections. They argued that this statement violated Article 48(5a) of the Constitution, which mandates the president to announce a general election date within 90 days of an assembly’s dissolution.
The reports indicated that the organisations also criticised the ECP for its perceived lack of credibility, citing instances of U-turns and non-compliance with superior court orders.
They pointed out that the ECP had previously refused to hold elections for Punjab and KP assemblies on May 14 and canceled local government elections in Islamabad Capital Territory three days before the polling, actions that seemed inconsistent with the Fourth Strategic Plan and Sections 94 and 103 of the Elections Act, 2017.
In addition, the organisations questioned the ECP’s decision to conduct delimitation of constituencies based on a problematic and politicised population census, which they argued was not mandatory under the Constitution. They referred to a survey conducted in 522 locations across 67 districts, revealing serious omissions in the census process, such as data not being entered into electronic tablets and enumerators not visiting some households.
Furthermore, the organisations raised concerns about the delay in releasing the final census results, questioning significant population fluctuations between May and August, particularly in Punjab, which appeared to align the results with those of the 2017 census.
Meanwhile, a senior ECP official defended the decision to conduct fresh delimitation before elections, citing a thorough examination of the law, the Constitution, and relevant judicial rulings. He also indicated readiness to proceed with previous delimitation if ordered by the Supreme Court.
The official assured that the ECP would take all necessary measures to ensure free, fair, and transparent elections with a level playing field for all candidates.