Tuesday, October 03, 2023

ECP says Fafen report based on misunderstanding

Fafen took quota of province as a unit and basic administrative unit instead of district unit, creating confusion

Security personnel stand guard at the headquarters of the Election Commission of Pakistan in Islamabad on September 21, 2023. — AFP
Security personnel stand guard at the headquarters of the Election Commission of Pakistan in Islamabad on September 21, 2023. — AFP

  • Quota was drawn based on allocated seats and population of province.
  • ECP recalled grade 17 to grade 22 officers posted in provinces for over three years.
  • Secretary Establishment said some members have been changed or repatriated.

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) refuted the preliminary delimitation report analysis by the Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen), stating it was based on a misunderstanding, particularly with regard to the application of a 10% difference among constituencies, as delimitation was based on each district’s population and its seats, The News reported on Tuesday.

However, the electoral watchdog said it was necessary to clarify that while analysing the population difference to determine the seats, Fafen — in its press release issued on September 30 — took into account the quota of the province as a unit and the basic administrative unit instead of the district unit which means that the district was ignored, creating confusion.

The ECP further explained that under Article 51 of the Constitution, 266 seats of the National Assembly are divided among provinces by population. The quota, therefore, was drawn on the basis of the allocated seats and population of the province, leading to the allocation of seats to each district under Rule 8(2) of the Election Rules 2017, followed by the delimitation on the basis of each district’s population and keeping in mind the seats of that district.

In addition to the population during delimitation, the election body noted there are other principles that are mentioned in Section 20 of the Elections Act 2017, including administrative unit and homogeneity, which were taken into account during the initial delimitation.

Similarly, in case of a 10% decrease in the population in the constituencies, the reasons must be recorded. The proper reasons for the constituency where this is deficient are mentioned in the preliminary delimitation report.

“In so far as the submission of representations in all the offices of the ECP and availability of population data for the convenience of the voter are concerned, it is clarified with reference to the suggestions made by the said body:

A: Population data is already available in the initial delimitation. Marked Maps and Unmarked Maps are available on the Election Commission’s website for public convenience. Voters can download these maps. Unmarked Maps can also be obtained from the Facilitation Center located at the Election Commission Secretariat Islamabad.

B: For the convenience of voters, for submission of representation under Section 21 Elections Act 2017 and Rule 12 of Election Rules 2017 on the Election Commission’s website, guidelines have also been uploaded. Since the hearing and decisions of the excuses are to be taken in the Election Commission Secretariat Islamabad. Therefore, collection centers have been set up in Islamabad.

C: Regarding the difference in population data, the figures mentioned in the (Fafen) press release are not correct. During the initial delimitation, there were 64 constituencies with a population deficit of more than 10%, for which reasonable reasons have been given in the report, which Section 20(4) of the Elections Act, 2017 permits.

D: The facility to file a representation is provided in the law and rules to correct the errors in the initial delimitation. If such an error is found in the initial delimitation which is not allowed by the law, it will be corrected during the hearing of the objections.”

Meanwhile, the ECP had recently directed to recall of grade 17 to grade 22 officers posted in the provinces for more than three years, who belong to various occupational groups and whose tenure in the provinces has exceeded three years.

Similarly, a statement issued by the ECP said, the Home Secretary was also directed to repatriate the CDA members who are posted from outside.

Members who are Capital Development Authority’s (CDA) regular employees should also be reshuffled to ensure impartiality in the upcoming general elections.

A meeting in this regard at the ECP Secretariat Monday revealed that 14 officers from the Secretariat, Office Management Group (OMG), and other occupational groups who exceeded their three-year tenures have been transferred from Sindh and 10 officers from Punjab province.

However, no officers with tenures over three years are currently present in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. Some members have been changed or repatriated, according to the Secretary Establishment.

The Ministry of Home Affairs has also sent memoranda for the transfer of the remaining members i.e. Environment, Admin, and Planning. Both secretaries were directed to transfer all transfers within three days and send a compliance report.