Making delimitation controversial

THE Federal Cabinet has decided, in principle, to conduct fresh delimitation of constituencies and said the proposed increase in number of seats of the national and provincial assemblies would be decided in Parliament. The delimitation of constituencies of national, provincial assemblies is mandatory under the fresh census and that is why, after a meeting with Secretaries of Law and Statistics on Friday, Secretary of the Commission told media that federal government has been asked to complete all legal formalities within a week to allow it to begin the work on delimitations and revision of electoral rolls on urgent basis.
In view of the sensitivities involved, the Cabinet appreciably decided that the government will present zero-proposal bill on the basis of fresh census to let Parliament decide whether the seats should be increased or not. In this regard, Minister for Law Zahid Hamid had a consultative meeting with Leader of the Opposition Syed Khurshid Shah but strangely enough the latter maintained the view that any unilateral move by government would not yield positive result if parliamentary party heads were not consulted in advance. We believe that time is of real essence and urgency of the issue demands immediate practical steps for delimitation of constituencies before the next elections. The modus operandi being suggested by Syed Khurshid Shah would mean political wrangling of weeks and months on the issue as there is hardly any expectation that a unanimous decision could be taken in present circumstances. PPP and MQM have already expressed reservations over new Census despite the fact that it was held under the supervision of Pakistan Army and extreme care was exercise in gathering and compiling the data. It is unlikely that the two parties would agree to fresh delimitations on the basis of new Census, as it would amount to its legitimisation. There are also some other parties that have made it a fashion to oppose anything proposed by the government. However, at government instance, the Speaker has convened a meeting of parliamentary leaders on Monday to discuss the issue. We hope every party would demonstrate maturity and avoid creating obstacles, as the matter should not be delayed unless the parties do not want the general elections to be held on time.

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