THE Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has reduced the timeline for delimitation of constituencies which will now be completed by November 30 as against the December 14 deadline announced earlier. In a statement issued on Friday, it explained that the purpose of early publication of the constituencies after their delimitation in accordance with the new census is to hold general election as early as possible and that the election schedule would be announced accordingly.
The Commission did not give an exact date for polls but during a consultative meeting with a delegation of the Awami National Party (ANP), it indicated that the polls could be held in mid-February or even earlier, in the last week of January. The situation would become clear when the Commission announces the much-talked-about election schedule in coming days but the consultative process highlighted the fact that issues can be sorted out amicably through discussion and dialogue. Representatives of different parties, besides reiterating political rhetoric, also presented suggestions for expediting the process of delimitation with emphasis on side-by-side completion of the related task of updating the electoral rolls and the process produced concrete results. It has to be realized that the demand for holding elections within 90 days of the dissolution of the National Assembly is in line with the Constitution but publication of the data of the new population census makes it a constitutional requirement to carry out delimitations before polls. Now that we have a possibility of holding elections either in January or February, it makes no sense to agitate the issue unnecessarily and instead it is time to extend fullest possible cooperation to the electoral body to organize elections in a fair and transparent manner. All stakeholders should also join their heads to address challenges that might crop up in case of polls to be held in the midst of extreme weather conditions in winter like the possibility of low turnout. It is also intriguing that the country is passing through critical times but so far no political party has come out with a roadmap to address the situation and resolve problems of the people. Mere assumption of power would be meaningless if you have no workable plan to run affairs of the state efficiently.