The Election Commission Pakistan’s (ECP) preliminary delimitation of electoral constituencies publication—issued earlier this month—of national, provincial and the FATA constituencies has received a backlash for its apparent anomalies. The allegations of anomalies, from both government and the opposition parties, have helped spiral fears about a possible delay in the elections 2018.
A parliament’s committee convened by Daniyal Aziz collected the objections and hopes to offer recommendations to the ECP. Dr Arif Alvi stated that 90 per cent of the constituencies have issues. Some parliamentarians saw that their constituency had been widened; in some cases a candidate’s residence was added to a neighbouring constituency; one objection was made about adding rural areas to urban constituencies, ECP was also accused of favouring so called ever-green politicians, etc. The parliamentary committee members said that the elections could see delays in the time it would take the ECP to figure out the objections and said that it would offer its recommendations on 300-plus collected objections to the ECP.
The notification from ECP showed the difference in constituencies: Punjab lost 7 seats, however, Federal Capital Islamabad, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan have gained one, four and two seats respectively.
ECP, however, remains undeterred. It advised the paliament’s committee, convened by Daniyal Aziz, to avoid interference with the Commission’s procedures and that five committees were already constituted by the commission to receive objections from voters within 30 days of the launch of the report. The commission also looked optimistic that they would be able to publish a final report in 45 days.
This kerfuffle in the media about the electoral constituencies issue is good to prolong the political crisis and might suit some political opportunists. But lets keep in mind that the ECP is mandated by the Delimitation of Constituencies Act 1974 to delimit all provincial and national electoral constituencies after each census.
In 2002 the delimitations of the electoral constituencies has raised fears that they were designed to support Pakistan Muslim League Qaud-i-Azam, PML-Q, against Pakistan People’s Party, PPP. However the reasons behind the setback for PPP didn’t stem from these delimitations. PPP secured the largest numbers of votes and their loss was the defection of their 18 candidates.
Election Commission and the judiciary are working in tandem to improve the election process. The ECP has worked diligently despite impending delays in the national census process. Political parties would do well by taking heart from the past and supporting ECP’s independence. Any effort to delay the ECP’s work could cause democracy dearly.