PM remarks put elections in doubt

The latest remarks of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif regarding elections has stirred another debate on the timings of next polls.

Talking to a private news channel, the premier said that the next elections would be held on the basis of latest digital census conducted earlier this year.

“The census has been conducted and we have to hold elections on its basis,” the prime minister said, in his latest interview.

The final document would be presented before the meeting of Council of Common Interests (CCI) after consolidating the results of census, the PM said, as it is a legal requirement.

All four Chief Ministers are the members of CCI.

When asked about the delay of elections as the census results haven’t been compiled yet, the prime minister said that it is ECP’s responsibility to hold the polls on time.

It merits mention here that ECP has already expressed its inability to hold polls on the basis of latest census.

The ECP will have to carry out fresh delimitation of constituencies based on fresh head count.

The seats in the National Assembly are allocated to each province and federal territory on the basis of latest published population census.

The constitutional amendment would also be required if the number of seats was altered after the publication of census results.

Meanwhile, Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal said that elections cannot be held within 90 days on the basis of latest digital census results.

In a separate TV interview, Iqbal, who is also the secretary general of PML-N, said that the 90-day limit would be exceeded if new digital census is approved.

He believed that the ECP would have to go for fresh delimitation process after if elections are to be held based on latest digital census.

Earlier, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said that the assemblies would be dissolved before their term. It shows that the caretaker set-up will be in place for at least 90 days.

The ruling coalition is also at odds in the timing of elections as PPP is against the idea of going into polls on the basis of latest census. However, another ally of the alliance, MQM, has demanded elections on the basis of digital census.

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