ISLAMABAD - Owing to pressure from both the government and the opposition, the draft for delimitation of constituencies for the upcoming general elections will be completed by next week as the 6th Population Census has clearly suggested increase in the constituencies, especially in the provincial assemblies.

The ECP teams currently working in different constituencies will submit its draft by February 28 to the ECP head office, which will be finalised in a week.

The delimitation of the constituencies even after finalisation by the ECP may trigger a new political debate in the country as potential candidates for upcoming general elections will come up with their reservations to it.

Background discussions with the political experts suggest the potential candidates will make all-out efforts to manoeuvre the criterion for delimitation in their favour.

ECP Public Relations Director Altaf Ahmed, when contacted, confirmed the draft would be submitted by February 28. “The ECP will take around a week to further examine it,” he said. The process of delimitation of constituencies of both the national and provincial assemblies would be completed in a transparent manner.

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

Sources said the candidates willing to contest the upcoming general elections for the provincial assemblies had tried to pressurise the provincial revenue departments concerned for the delimitation of the constituencies in their favour. They said the departments concerned were approached to increase their areas for enhancing vote bank.

Former ECP secretary Kanwar Dilshad said he had already conveyed reservations to the ECP for possible manoeuvring in the delimitation of the constituencies. Dilshad had written a letter to the ECP, asking them to hold all the delimitation process under one roof to avoid irregularities.

The former ECP secretary, in his letter, had suggested 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.

Over a month before, the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) had given blocks and maps to remove errors and mistakes for the delimitation of constituencies. The ECP teams, with the help of maps and blocks, worked for the delimitation of the constituencies.

As many as 163,541 blocks had been marked countrywide to conduct the 6th census. The process of the delimitation of the 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 at the last Council of Common Interests (CCI) meeting.

Both the houses of the parliament had passed a constitutional amendment about fresh delimitation of the constituencies on the basis of provisional results of the 6th Population Census. Two opposition parties, PPP and MQM-P, had mainly raised objections to the results, demanding five percent third-party audit.

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 and representation in parliament.