PTI renews call for general elections in 90 days as ECP initiates consultation with political parties

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The Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) has expressed its support for the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold general elections following delimitation, while the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has urged the electoral body to forgo the delimitation process and conduct elections within 90 days.

Both parties made their stances clear during meetings with ECP officials as part of the ongoing consultations with major political parties regarding the election roadmap.

According to a statement from the election commission, PTI representatives emphasized the need for elections to take place within 90 days and argued against the requirement for delimitation at the present moment. The PTI also demanded the immediate release of its detained leaders and workers, and urged the ECP to grant permission for political rallies and ensure an equitable political environment for all parties.

On the other side, JUI-F representatives clarified that holding elections aligns with constitutional obligations and informed the electoral authority that delimitation should be the priority now that census results are available.

The ECP assured both parties that it is committed to holding the upcoming elections as promptly as possible and ensuring a fair playing field for all parties.

The statement further noted that consultations with major political parties will continue in the coming days.

Earlier this week, it was reported that the ECP had decided to consult all major political parties, including the PTI, about the timing of the general elections, which are anticipated to occur early next year.

These consultations will address various aspects of the election process, including the election roadmap, delimitation, and voter lists. The ECP’s meetings with political parties are expected to commence in the near future.

It was previously indicated that the ECP would be holding discussions with other major parties, including the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), and Awami National Party (ANP). However, the ECP has so far met only with JUI-F and PTI.

The dissolution of the National Assembly, as well as the assemblies in Sindh and Balochistan, by the government led by Shehbaz Sharif on August 9, was intended to grant the ECP additional time to hold elections within 90 days instead of the usual 60 days following the completion of a legislature’s constitutional term.

However, the ECP might face challenges in conducting the elections within the stipulated time due to the Council of Common Interest (CCI) approving the 7th Population and Housing Census 2023 just prior to the assembly dissolution.

The CCI, led by then-Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, endorsed the final census results, reporting a population of 241.49 million with a growth rate of 2.55%. This approval necessitated fresh delimitations and constitutionally mandates that the ECP hold elections based on the new census results.

Following this development, the ECP announced a schedule for new delimitations in line with the approved census. The fresh delimitation process is set to be completed by December of this year.

Given the timeline for the delimitation process, it appears unlikely that general elections can be held within 90 days of the dissolution of the provincial and national assemblies.