PESHAWAR - Acting Chief Election Commissioner Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan on Tuesday said that the Election Commission is ready to hold both general and Local Bodies elections soon after finalising electoral lists by the end of this month.

“The delay in finalisation of electoral lists was due to the Statistical Department, that also created troubles for the Commission,” Justice Shakirullah Jan said while addressing a three-day Grand thematic Conference on Election Reporting, held at the University of Peshawar.

The programme was organised by the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Peshawar, at Sir Sahibdazada Abdul Qayyum Khan auditorium.

The Election Commissioner said that the voters lists would soon be published after finalising till the end of July and will be ready to hold elections at any time. The Constitution of the country has no such provision to extend the tenure of the government in power, without bringing Constitutional amendment, he added. The Election Commission is a Constitutional department to conduct elections including Presidential, Local Bodies and general elections across the country, he said whereas maintaining law and order situation is the responsibility of the administration.

The Commission, he said have about 2,200 work force, whereas for holding free, fair and transparent elections, the Commission will be in dire need of 0.5 million workers to hold general elections across the country.

In the election process, the employees of the Health and Higher Education Departments and Administration Department also assist the Commission, he added. Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan further said that the Commission is following the directives of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, given in a judgment.

Clarifying the issue of fixing the limitation of expenses for a candidate taking part in the elections, he said that it was the law made by the lawmakers fixing Rs 1.5 million and Rs 1 million for the candidates contesting election at the National Assembly and Provincial Assembly respectively. We have just followed the rules and regulations that are fixed, he maintained.

He also hailed the role of media in bringing knowledge among the masses about

democracy, but stressed the need to follow the code of conduct at every stage.

He insisted upon the media persons to report election process more responsibly, accurately, sensibly and in an unbiased way, adding, covering the election process is too much sensitive and an uphill task.

Later on, in reply to a query, Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan said that according to the Constitution in absence of the permanent Chief Election Commissioner, a sitting and senior most judge of the Supreme Court will be the acting Chief Election Commissioner.

If the government brings a permanent Chief Election Commissioner, he will then automatically go to Supreme Court, he clarified.

He also said that the Constitution clearly explains that an elected government have five years mandate, and there is no such provision for giving extension without bringing proper amendment in the Constitution.

About the use of electronic machine in election process, he said that the Commission had used it on experimental basis, in which it was proved too much lengthy process to properly educate the voters.