According the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), the house-listing operation and 15-day census enumeration will be completed by April. Preliminary results will be ready by June while the district-level reports will be published by December 2017.

The new limits that will be drawn of local boundaries will have an impact on the 2018 General Elections. Constitutionally, it will be mandatory to delimit electoral constituencies before the elections as the census data will be available eight months before the elections, and there is no legal excuse not to follow new demarcations. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in April declared that the next general elections would be held on the basis of the previous demarcation of the constituencies if PBS failed to officially publish the census data by July this year. However, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Justice (Retd) Sardar Mohammad Raza on Thursday said that delimitation of the existing constituencies would be done after completion of the census.

Although former president Asif Ali Zardari claims that his party is prepared to face fresh elections even if held during the current year, there is little possibility of the PML-N agreeing to a premature poll. This is compounded by the fact that the ECP needs to complete procedural formalities for fresh elections, which cannot be completed during the current year due to the slow process of electoral reform and the ongoing census. The final delimitation authority is the provincial legislatures, and thus political parties, the dominant ones, have a lot of room to manoeuvre to draw boundaries in their favour.

The census will bring up many issues, including the delimitation in FATA and the size of its representation in Senate and National Assembly (NA), which is more than its population (8 in Senate and 12 in NA). It is still a moot point, whether FATA will, or should, have its representation decreased in line with the new census and its merger with KP.

This is something that needs to be kept a close eye on by opposition parties, who may not have a say in delimitation. When constituency sizes change due to gerrymandering, the results of the next elections may contrary to predictions.