ISLAMABAD - While the Election Commission of Pakistan is working on delimitation of constituencies, potential candidates for the national and provincial assemblies may attempt to manoeuvre the process in their favour.

The ECP is currently finalising delimitation of constituencies for the upcoming general elections as the 6th population census clearly suggests increasing constituencies, especially in the provincial assemblies.

The seats of the provincial assemblies, according to the results of the 6th population census, would increase almost throughout the country whereas the NA constituencies will see a comparatively smaller increase.

Sources said potential candidates for the provincial assemblies might pressurise the provincial revenue department concerned for delimitation of constituencies in their favour.

Candidates from the parties ruling their respective provinces can influence the department concerned in their favour, they said. The sources said the potential candidates might seek increase in their areas for enhancing vote bank.

When contacted, former ECP secretary Kanwar Dilshad said he had already conveyed fears and reservations to the ECP for possible manoeuvring in the delimitation of the constituencies. “I had written a letter to the ECP, asking them to hold all the delimitation process under one roof to avoid irregularities,” he said.

The former ECP secretary said he had further proposed to the officials dealing with the delimitation of constituencies in the provinces that they might come under pressure, so the process should be held under one roof.

The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) around two weeks ago provided to the ECP blocks and maps to remove the errors and mistakes for the delimitation of constituencies.

The process to provide maps and blocks to the ECP is currently going on and some teams have also started the work.

ECP PR Director Altaf Ahmed, while talking to The Nation, said the process of delimitation of constituencies of both the national and provincial assemblies would be completed in a transparent manner. “This process is currently being undertaken in a transparent manner, while taking care of the prescribed rules,” he said.

Ahmed said errors and complaints, if received from any area, would be removed. He also ruled out possibility of manoeuvring in the delimitation process.

As many as 163,541 blocks had been marked countrywide to conduct the 6th census. The process of the delimitation of constituencies will reportedly conclude in March.

The issue of increasing the census blocks from one percent to five percent for a third-party audit was approved in the last Council of Common Interests (CCI) meeting.

Both the houses of the parliament had passed a constitutional amendment about fresh delimitation of constituencies on the basis of provisional results of the 6th population census.

Opposition parties, Pakistan People’s Party and MQM-P, had mainly raised objections to the results, demanding five percent third-party audit.

These opposition parties had created much difficulty for the government regarding the passage of the constitutional amendment on delimitation of constituencies.

The first population census was conducted in 1951, second in 1961, third in 1972, fourth in March 1981, fifth in 1998 and the 6th census was conducted in 2017.

Census is required for judicious distribution of resources, representation in parliament, tax collection etc.