In a major step towards holding the general elections in the country, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) On Wednesday published the draft list of preliminary delimitation of constituencies. However, the delimitations become controversial after some parties raised concerns hours before its publishing.
Once the draft was published, one party went as far as to say that this was proof of Gerrymandering.
The top election regulatory body on Wednesday published the draft delimitations for the national and provincial assemblies based on the new Digital Census 2023.
Talking to The Friday Times, Pakistan Peoples Party's (PPP) Chaudhary Manzoor termed the draft delimitations a blatant example of 'Gerrymandering' (where electoral district/constituency boundaries are divided to grant one side favour over the other) and favouritism.
Without naming their former coalition partner and now opponent, the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N, he claimed that the commission had manipulated boundaries (of electoral constituencies) to favour one party or class.
He expected political parties, candidates and voters to raise objections after thoroughly examining the draft for all constituencies.
Previously, PPP's former senator Sassui Palijo had complained that a seat traditionally with Thar was being reallocated away from the district, effectively disenfranchising the locals.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan's (MQM-P) leader Zahid Malik told The Friday Times that his party will thoroughly examine the constituencies and the changes made before publicly sharing their stance on the subject.
"We have already shared our concerns with the commission about the staff deputed in Sindh for counting votes and conducting polls," shared MQM-P's leader Zahid Malik
Talking to The Friday Times, leaders of major political parties said that they would thoroughly examine the preliminary report issued by the commission before submitting their objections to the commission. When asked, PML-N and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) representatives deemed it too early to comment on the preliminary report.
They added that a comment will be more forthcoming after thoroughly examining the published version.
Meanwhile, former ECP secretary Kanwar Dilshad told The Friday Times that representatives of relevant parties in their concerned constituencies would obviously submit their concerns and objections to the commission. And in due period of time, the commission will address these objections.
According to the notification issued by the electoral watchdog, this provisional report on the delimitation of constituencies is based on the recently concluded digital population census of constituencies. The Council of Common Interests (CCI) had formally approved the new census with consensus, which binds the Election Commission of Pakistan to undertake the process of delimitation of constituencies.
The commission, in its statement, said that preliminary reports and a map of constituencies can be viewed on the ECP's website (https://www.ecp.gov.pk/). Voters and political figures can submit their related area concerns to the commission.
The ECP noted that the objections raised through courier, post or fax will not be accepted. Upon receiving the objection, the commission will start addressing the objections from October 28 to complete it by November 26. It was informed that district maps can be obtained from the ECP for a "small fee".