As the process of receiving representations on fresh delimitations pours in, an expected round of consultations between the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and political parties is expected to go only one way: pressure from parties to announce a definitive schedule for elections as soon as possible.
This was learnt in conversations with representatives of different political parties as the top poll body gears up to launch the second and final round of consultations with political parties before elections next year. The consultations are scheduled to be held on Wednesday, October 11.
The top poll body has completed the first and most crucial part of the three-month delimitation process - drawing the maps of constituencies according to population changes. It has also indicated a tentative timeline for holding the polls but has yet to issue a definitive and detailed schedule of elections, on which political parties often base their campaigns and finalise candidates.
"We (Pakistan Peoples Party) will ask the Election Commission of Pakistan to announce the schedule sooner rather than later," said PPP senior leader and former senator Taj Haider while speaking with [The Friday Times].
He added that the onus is on the ECP to clear the ambiguity surrounding the exact schedule and date of polls.
Haider said that another major issue, that of the 'code of conduct', has been settled between the political parties and the ECP. Now, it was the poll body's responsibility to announce the final elections schedule.
He pointed to the consistent demand of PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in public gatherings for the ECP to publish the election schedule.
The leadership of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) have been similarly demanding the ECP clear the confusion surrounding the election schedule and announce the final date for polls.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) shares this page with other parties. In their demands for the electoral watchdog to hold elections, they even asked it to forego the mandatory requirement of delimitation of constituencies after a census, a rule that the party voted into law.
Representatives of these parties, in background discussions, expressed that their parties are likely to push the ECP to hold polls as soon as possible and to announce a schedule for the elections at the earliest, complete with a date for polling day.
It is pertinent to note that in a notification last month, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) clarified that the upcoming general elections will likely be held in the last week of January 2024 after the process of delimiting constituencies is complete. The commission, however, stopped short of announcing an exact date for polls.
In another signal that the ECP is gearing up to finalise a date for elections, it has asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to invite foreign observers for the upcoming general elections.
Moreover, the Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja recently held separate meetings with US Ambassador Donald Blome and British High Commissioner Jane Marriot over the upcoming polls.