ECP 'unlikely' to announce elections date any time soon

Muhammad Saleh Zaafir
A file photo of ECP board outside its office. Photo: AFP/File
A file photo of ECP board outside its office. Photo: AFP/File

  • CEC working to ensure delimitation process is unquestionable.
  • Recent meetings beneficial; no major party opposed delimitation.
  • President Alvi has mysteriously gone quiet since last Friday.

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is in no rush to announce the schedule of the general elections in the country, as the regular meetings are more focused on completing the process of constituency delimitation in an error-free manner, The News reported Thursday. 

Highly placed sources from the ECP told the publication: “It is unlikely that polling day will be determined any time soon and even before the end of the month as the specific question isn’t on the agenda of the ECP’s meetings as yet.”

They further added that Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja has been working diligently for weeks to make sure the process of delimitation is undertaken in a way that can’t be questioned. 

Committees for supervision of the process have been constituted and committee members have been asked to constitute subordinate committees comprising people whose integrity cannot be questioned. Committee members are also being monitored so that their work is not affected by politics.

According to sources, the recent series of meetings with the political leadership of various parties proved beneficial for the ECP’s process as no noteworthy party had opposed the delimitation. 

As far as the question of polls in a specific period of time is concerned, though, parties do have divergent views about the timeline. 

The CEC has told the commission that undue haste will not be exercised during the delimitation process since this is a sensitive issue and provides the basis for the elections.

It has been indicated that the ECP will take up the question of the election schedule in the last week of this month. Weather and other logistical considerations will be taken into view before deciding the date of the polls. 

Per sources: “the commission is fully aware of its obligations relating to elections in a free and fair manner.... it will not budge under any pressure coming from any side”.

The ECP is also apparently satisfied with the assurances given by the caretaker administration regarding the provision of required support in relation to the polls. Sources have hinted that the general elections could be held in the last week of January next year. 

Apparently, the ECP has dedicated the third floor of its office to state-of-the-art equipment to keep an eye on pre- and post-poll affairs. It will be used as a monitoring centre where the election results will reach immediately post-counting. 

In an unrelated development, President Arif Alvi has mysteriously gone quiet since last Friday. His official spokesman is also not communicative. The president was set to perhaps announce a polling date this week but he may have retracted from his plan. 

His five-year tenure as the country’s president is set to conclude tomorrow (Friday). While he has been advised to call it a day, and vaguely he was in agreement per rumours, now sources say he wants to avail the constitutional concession that allows him to stay in office till the election of his successor.

The dilemma with Arif Alvi is that while he has constitutional support, he badly lacks political goodwill. 

There is thinking that even political parties have conveyed to the people concerned that it would be difficult for them to accept the process of electioneering in the presence of a highly controversial figure in the Presidency. Alvi is seen to have acted as a partisan head of state. 

Regardless, it is believed by sources that he could resurface tomorrow.