Pakistan general elections to be held in the last week of January 2024 - GulfToday

Pakistan general elections to be held in the last week of January 2024


A security personnel stands guard at the headquarters of Election Commission of Pakistan in Islamabad on Thursday. AFP

Tariq Butt, Correspondent

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday announced that the next parliamentary polls would be held in the last week of January 2024.

In a statement, the ECP said that it reviewed work on delimiting constituencies and decided that the initial list for the delimitation of constituencies would be published on Sept.27.

After hearing objections and suggestions regarding the exercise, the final list would be issued on Nov.30, the ECP said. It said that polls would be held in the last week of January following the completion of a 54-day election campaign programme.

Earlier this month, President Dr Arif Alvi wrote a letter to Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja and, citing constitutional requirements, proposed that elections be held by November 6. The letter came against the backdrop of reports that the president would unilaterally announce a date for the elections. But contrary to the said reports, analysts said that the missive was just a suggestion and not a declaration of the election date.

The ECP announcement comes a day after the ECP said it had scheduled a meeting with political parties next month to discuss the code of conduct for general elections.

According to the ECP, a draft code of conduct had been shared with political parties to get their feedback before finalising the rules of the game.

The draft code says political parties, contesting candidates and election agents shall not propagate any opinion, or act in any manner prejudicial to the ideology of Pakistan, or the sovereignty, integrity or security of Pakistan, or morality or public order, or the integrity or independence of the judiciary of Pakistan, or which defames or brings into ridicule any government institution including the judiciary and the armed forces.

The ECP has ruled out elections this year, citing the need for fresh delimitation of constituencies following the notification of the latest 2023 digital census.

Since the National Assembly was dissolved three days before the end of its constitutional term, Article 224 of the Constitution mandates that elections be held within 90 days of the dissolution of the assembly by November 7.

But at the same time, Section 17(2) of the Elections Act states that "the ECP will delimit constituencies after every census is officially published.”

During the last round of consultations with the ECP, political parties took different positions on the timing for elections with some highlighting the need for fresh delimitation and others — notably the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) —calling for holding polls within the constitutional time frame.

Meanwhile, President Alvi had CEC Raja last month for a meeting to "fix an appropriate date” for general elections. In his letter to the CEC, the president quoted Article 244 of the Constitution, saying he was duty-bound to get the elections conducted within the prescribed 90-day period once the National Assembly is dissolved prematurely.

But a recent amendment to the Elections Act 2017 empowered the ECP to announce the dates for polls unilaterally without having to consult the president.

Citing this change to the law, the CEC responded to the president, saying that participating in a meeting with him to decide the election date would be of "scant importance”.

Subsequently, the president sought the law ministry’s advice on the matter, and the ministry communicated to the president that the powers to announce the poll date rested with the ECP.



Related articles