ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Election Commission (ECP) warned on Tuesday that general elections will not be held until May 2023, citing a census-related setback.
The ECP’s declaration comes after expelled PTI Chairman Imran Khan sought early elections and pledged to remain on the streets until elections are held, while the present government’s term in power is also uncertain.
The election board stated in a statement issued today that it received a letter from the Ministry of Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives on April 18 indicating that the seventh population census will begin on August 1 and that the results would be available by December 31.
As a result, the ECP claims it would be legally obligated to perform elections based on the new census, as the 2017 census, which is now utilised to conduct polls, will become obsolete.
Once the ECP gets the new census data, it will begin delimitation work in January 2023, and it would take at least four months for the body to produce new constituency lists – after which elections will be place.
Moving on, the ECP said that it was being blamed by some for postponing PTI’s foreign financing hearing. “The ECP vehemently opposes this charge.”
The Commission stated that it was working on the petitions it had received from the PPP, PML-N, and PTI through its scrutiny committees. The hearing on PTI’s foreign financing matter was reaching its conclusion, according to the statement, and closing arguments were begun.
The PPP and PML-N have been requested to deliver their party’s records to the ECP’s inspection committee on May 9, according to the statement, adding that any delays in the proceedings are attributable to political parties’ delaying tactics, not the electoral body.
Hearing on Article 63(A)
The ECP stated in a statement that it operates independently, is a neutral authority that follows the law, and acts in the country’s “greatest interest.”
The ECP stated that on April 14, it received 20 declarations of 63(A) violations from the National Assembly, which will be heard on April 28.
Meanwhile, the ECP has received 26 Article 63(A) statements from the Punjab Assembly, which will be heard on May 6. The body has the authority to determine the matters within 30 days, according to the ECP.