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ECP move strengthens snap polls possibilities

The commission has decided to display provisional lists for voters’ verification on May 21

Wednesday’s move of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) strengthened the snap polls possibilities, a day after the government assertion to complete the tenure till August 2023.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan, on the other side, is demanding immediate polls.

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The ECP in April indicated that the elections were not possible before May 2023, citing the issue of the census proposed to be held in August 2022. But it took a surprise decision on Wednesday and decided to display provisional electoral lists for verification of voters in all the provinces.

The lists were already prepared in light of the census of 2017 but they will be displayed for voters’ verification, said Huda Gohar, the spokesperson for the ECP Punjab.

Another official of the ECP told Minute Mirror that the commission was compelled to review its stance after some politicians (from the PTI) raised objections that it was the constitutional obligation of the ECP to hold the polls within 90 days in case of dissolution of assemblies by the prime minister under any circumstance.

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The spokesperson said the electoral list in Punjab’s 37 districts will be displayed from Saturday, May 21 till June 19. The same exercise will be done in other provinces. The work on the delimitation is already in process, as per the 2017 census.

A citizen needs to fill out Form 15 and submit it to the centre in-charge in case of the absence of his name on the list during the given period. Form 16 will be filled to raise objections in the presence of any name in the list and Form 17 could be submitted for the correction of data.

The ECP Punjab appointed 43 registration officers, 1,114 assistant registration officers and 167 revising authorities to complete the exercise. “Realizing the legislation on electoral reforms including the issue of the use of electronic voting machines and right to vote and its mechanism for overseas Pakistanis could be a lengthy process besides delimitation on the basis of the proposed fresh census could also take months, the ECP revisited its strategy,” said the official sources.

The ECP in April said it had received a letter from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) on April 18 stating that the seventh population and housing census would be initiated from August 1. The ECP would be provided with the results of the fresh census on December 31.

“In such a scenario, the delimitation of constituencies being conducted by the ECP on the basis of the 2017 census would become irrelevant and the electoral watchdog would be bound by the Constitution to start the process anew from January 1, 2023 — which would require at least four months,” the ECP said. The polls, it said, therefore were not possible before May 2023.

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