The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) refusal to follow the recommendations of National Assembly’s Special Committee on Delimitation of Constituencies is nothing but locking of the horns between the two bodies over contentions that can be resolved or at least reduced. Both sides are reluctant to show cooperation. On the one hand, the concerns of the parliamentarians are genuine, on the other hand considering the tedious task of delimitation and lack of resources made it impossible for the ECP to please everyone while conducting the exercise.

Nevertheless, it is also true that the process of delimitation was carried out in haste; hence so much outcry and discontent showed by the parliamentarians and political parties. Instead of trying to take some corrective measures the outright refusal of ECP to follow the committee’s recommendations will lead no party anywhere. The uncooperative attitude of ECP is instilling fear in the political parties and candidates that ECP would not even bother to follow its own recommendation to the potential candidates of the political parties, i.e., filing of a petition if someone feels aggrieved. However, the suggestion of ECP that is the filing of a petition before the commission will be a costly practice.

The pointed out anomalies in the delimitation exercise go against the universally accepted practices established for the purpose of delimitation of the constituencies. Delimitation should be based on updated population information or voter registration data. However, ECP’s notification of draft proposals on delimitation on its website conceded that it was not done on the basis of population. ECP should take responsibility for the errors it has made instead of beating around the bush. The whole purpose of preliminary publication of the delimitation plan, so as to allow and encourage public input and challenge where appropriate, and to guarantee the right to an effective and timely remedy against gerrymandering is defeated if ECP is not willing to address the issues in the process.

ECP should not try to cover its failures by saying that they cannot entertain the objections or act upon the recommendations of the committee for the law bars it to do so. It will be better to take the recommendations of the committee into consideration instead of advising every other aggrieved political party to file a petition over delimitation issues. There is very little time remaining in the upcoming general elections. Cooperation with the committee will not only save the time of both bodies, but it will also help in holding a free and fair election on time.