General elections not before May 2023, hints ECP

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Tuesday hinted it cannot hold general elections before May 2023, citing a census-related setback.

The ECP’s statement comes after ousted PTI Chairman Imran Khan demanded early elections and vowed to remain on the streets till polls are held, while the incumbent government also remains unsure about its time in office.

In a statement released today, the election body said it received a letter on April 18 from the Ministry of Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives, stating that the seventh population census would commence on August 1 and its results would be received by December 31.

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As a result, the ECP said it would be constitutionally bound to hold elections based on the new census as the 2017 census — used to conduct polls nowadays — would become irrelevant.

Once the ECP receives the new census data, the ECP will start working on delimitation from January 2023, and it will take the body at least four months to issue new lists of the constituencies — and only then can elections be held.

Moving on, the ECP said some quarters were blaming it for delaying foreign funding cases. “The ECP strongly rejects this criticism.”

The Commission said scrutiny committees were working on the applications it had received from the PPP, PML-N, and PTI. It added that the hearing on PTI’s foreign funding case was nearing its end final arguments were underway.

The PPP and PML-N have been asked to present their party’s records before the ECP’s scrutiny committee on May 9, the statement said, noting that if there is a delay in the procedures, then it is due to delaying tactics from the political parties, and not the election body.

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