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Pak election commission rules out any delay in polls after President Alvi casts doubt

Islamabad: Pakistan’s top electoral body has reassured that there is no question of postponing general elections slated to be held in January after President Arif Alvi expressed doubts over the timing of the polls in the cash-strapped nation.

In an interview with a news channel, President Alvi said he did not see polls taking place in January next year. He said he had made various “efforts” towards it, including writing letters to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

Before being appointed as Pakistan’s President, Alvi was a founding member of jailed former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.

According to the president, the law ministry told him it was not his prerogative.

Political analysts have also raised concerns about a possible delay in the polls past January, with several noting that no political party seems in the ‘election mode’, while some others cautioned about the ‘harsh weather’ during winters that could hamper the polling process.

Responding to Alvi’s remarks, the ECP in a press statement on Thursday said that the president’s comments had created the impression that polls may be postponed.

“The first phase of delimitation has been completed and the second phase of filing objections will be completed tomorrow,” it said, adding that it would start hearing objections regarding the preliminary delimitation from October 30 and 31 and the final list would be published on November 30.

The ECP said its preparations for holding polls were going on and the election schedule would be announced once the final list of constituencies was published.

The electoral watchdog said that there was no “ambiguity” in this.

The ECP has earlier stated that the elections would be held in the last week of January but refused to give an exact date despite demands from political parties.

The 90-day limit of holding elections after the dissolution of the National Assembly is set to expire on November 7, which the ECP decided to ignore to carry out a delimitation exercise in the light of the new census held countrywide in March and April of this year.

Since the National Assembly was dissolved three days before the end of its constitutional term, the Constitution mandates that elections be held within 90 days of the dissolution of the assembly by November 7.

However, the ECP had said it was constitutionally bound to draw fresh boundaries ahead of the elections as the Council of Common Interest (CCI) had approved the census; holding elections within the stipulated time period was not possible.

(Published 27 October 2023, 11:13 IST)

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