Senate vote buries call for early polls

LAHORE –  With the passage of delimitations bill by the Senate on Tuesday, there is no possibility of early polls being held in the country.

The new legislation has paved the way for holding of general elections at the stipulated time on the basis of new delimitations which cannot be put in place before six months.

Technically, one could not rule out the likelihood of early polls as long as the deadlock over this landmark legislation persisted in the Senate.

In that case, had the status quo existed for longer, the matter would have eventually gone to the apex court which might have ruled to hold the elections on the basis of old constituencies to fulfil the Constitutional requirement.

In the present situation, however, snap polls are not an option even if the government decides to dissolve the Assemblies before time.

This is so because it is now a Constitutional requirement to hold the next elections on the basis of new delimitations which are not forthcoming before six months.

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif had hinted at the possibility of early elections last week in a statement that government might resort to premature dissolution of Assemblies to reap political benefits out of it.

PTI’s spokesperson Fawad Ch yesterday said that the Election Commission should complete the process of delimitations within three months to make way for the early elections.

But technically, the new delimitations cannot be carved out in three months. “It takes at least six months to complete the process”, ex-Secretary to Election Commission of Pakistan, Kanwar Dilshad told The Nation. 

He was of the view that delimitation of constituencies was a tedious process involving seeking help from NADRA and Google maps.

He opined that if the job is done in a haphazard manner, it would complicate the matter as different stakeholders might not agree with new changes made in the limits of electoral constituencies. 

He also said that Election Commission did not have the capacity to do the needful in three months.

Dilshad informed this paper that the last delimitations were carried out during his tenure as the Secretary to the Election Commission. 

“It took around eight months to complete the process which started in October, 2001 and ended on June 28th, 2002 when the final notification was made”, he said.

It may be recalled that Election Commission had also warned the political parties that it may not be able to complete the process of delimitations if the legislation is not passed by November 27, 2017.

Also, senior PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira yesterday took a clear position on the issue stating that his party would oppose holding of early elections tooth and nail. “We will not let the elections to take place before their scheduled timings”, he said, adding, that Imran Khan was in a great hurry for elections as somebody had told him that luck was in his favour these days.

Earlier, the PPP-P chief Asif Ali Zardari had also dropped a hint at the likelihood of premature elections, predicting that government might collapse even before completing its tenure. In saying so, he had then indicated that PPP was prepared for such an eventuality.


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