CCI discussed extension in assemblies’ tenure

ISLAMABAD –  In order to avoid possible objections on electoral rolls (voter lists) for 2018 elections, a suggestion to extend the tenure of current assemblies for one-year came under discussion at the country’s highest forum — the Council of Common Interests.

The proposal, floated in the presence of four chief ministers and the prime minister at the last CCI sitting, was thoroughly discussed but no final pronouncement was made in this regard.

A minister and a member of the CCI had floated the idea to reach a consensus for extending the tenure of the assemblies for one-year and match the criteria of electoral rolls for 2018 polls, a source privy to the meeting shared with The Nation.

It was argued at the CCI meeting that the results of ‘five percent audit of constituencies of census blocks will not be announced before April 2018 and ultimately the authorities concerned will have to rely on the old voter list.

After the 6th population census results, the old electoral rolls of 2013 elections could be challenged at any stage. The chief ministers, he said, sought to make a joint strategy to avoid any controversial objections to it.

According to the 6th population census results, he said, the number of voters throughout the country had increased manifold and a further extension in the tenure of assemblies could be feasible in such a scenario.

The 6th population census revealed that Pakistan’s population had reached 207.8 million with an increase of 57 percent since 1998.

In the last 36 years, the population grew by 146.6 percent, according to the provisional summary results of the 6th Population and Housing Census-2017. The total population (207.8 million) includes all persons residing in the country.

The current National Assembly will constitutionally complete its tenure in the first week of June 2018.

When contacted, former secretary ECP Kanwar Dilshad said that an objection on the basis of population census could be raised with different arguments.

Citing an example of around 15 million unregistered females without identity cards, Dilshad said that there could be room for objection to it. He said that there was also a provision to extend the tenure of assemblies for one-year in emergencies (floods, earthquake, war etc). He, however, said that this matter, if raised at any stage, could be dealt.

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

An objection was raised by opposition parties (PPP-P and MQM-P) to increase the audit of blocks from one percent to five percent. The objection was taken up by the CCI and it was unanimously approved to conduct the audit of five percent blocks.

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

 

our staff reporter

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