The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Friday decided to immediately start the delimitation exercise of all National Assembly and provincial assembly constituencies on the basis of the 2017 census so that the process could be completed within four months.
The decision was made at a meeting of the ECP – chaired by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan – amid recent events in the politics of Pakistan.
The commission has approached the provincial governments to immediately provide maps and other data in order to complete the process of delimitation on time.
Meanwhile, the ECP secretary and special secretary were directed to present a complete action plan on Wednesday for the general elections. The meeting also decided to expedite and complete the process to review and update the voter lists for the general elections at the earliest.
In a statement, the ECP vowed to perform its constitutional role for the continuation of the democratic process, transparency and rule of law. Earlier, it had blamed the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government for causing a delay in the delimitation process, as the government, prime minister and Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and other related departments did not respond to the letter written by the ECP regarding the process.
The commission was informed regarding the non-release of funds by Finance Division, as the ECP had written to the government and Finance Division about essential funds to conduct the local government elections in Punjab.
It decided to seek assistance from the federal secretary of finance and the Punjab chief secretary, and then conclude on how to ensure timely local government elections in Punjab. The meeting observed that the local government elections had already been delayed, and their further delay would be a clear violation of law and the constitution. Upon the advice of the Finance Division, the ECP had sent a summary of the supplementary grant for approval of the ECC, while the ECC further sent it to the cabinet after its approval.
When Finance Division was contacted recently by the ECP to release the funds, it was told that it could not release the amount to conduct local government elections in Punjab, as it required a no-objection certificate from the Punjab government.
The ECP took serious notice of the issue and said it is a financially and administratively independent body under the constitution.
The meeting observed that the government and all provincial governments were bound to provide administrative and financial support; however, due to various reasons, hurdles were being created in its way to fulfil the constitutional responsibilities.
In order to ensure timely conduct of the local government elections in Punjab, the commission has now asked the federal finance secretary and Punjab chief secretary for a meeting with the ECP. The commission said it would issue orders after hearing both officials.