The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), in a statement on Sunday at the time of nomination forms being made available to candidates from Returning Officers, made it clear that candidates would have to appear personally before the Returning Officers to submit the forms. This was one of the clarifications made by the ECP in response to queries made by some of the candidates. This thus precludes casual filings from multiple constituencies, while it makes sure that anyone intent on being a candidate in distant seats will have to do some travelling. Nevertheless, personal appearances are possible because of the fact that seven days are provided for the filing of nominations. It has also been clarified that the certificate of affiliation with a political party is not mandatory at the time of filing, though at the time of scrutiny or of allocation of electoral symbols, it can also be filed. That latter certificate does not depend on either the candidate or the Returning Officer, but on the party issuing it, or rather the party office-bearer who is to issue it. The certificate is of cardinal importance, for only its issuing enables the Returning Officer to allocate any candidate the symbol allocated to the political party. Since parties try to keep the award of tickets to themselves, and hence of the allocation of the party symbol, as late as possible, this certificate is not normally available at the time of submission of papers. It might be noted that while nomination papers are not only available, but are beginning to be filed, no party has begun the process of awarding tickets, which will lead to the issuing of certificates.

The protest in Karachi against the re-delimitation of certain national and provincial constituencies of the city seems misdirected. The protest on Sunday in particular seemed a misdirection of the energy that should go into contesting the coming elections. Like other parties, the MQM has not begun its candidate selection process, but then, other parties have not taken upon themselves any move to protest the re-delimitation carried out recently. Though Karachi is supposed to be an MQM stronghold, it would do better to direct its energy to taking part in the coming polls, rather than taking up issues which militate against this.

The ECP would have done well to involve the parties more than has been done so far, but if parties insist on following purely partisan ends, as the MQM is doing in Karachi, it can be understood why it does not do so.