Before the landmark Supreme Court judgement setting aside the dissolution of the Assembly, one major concern that appeared to make any upcoming elections in the next few months an impossibility was the inability of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to arrange elections in such a short time frame. The most insurmountable hurdle appeared to be the delimitation problem—several political players refused to accept the delimitation based on the 2017 census and yet, the process of conducting the digital census aimed for 2023 is not even halfway complete.

It is then perhaps ironic to note that though the ECP claimed that elections were near impossible when the President dissolved the assemblies, now, where the Supreme Court judgement appears to indicate that general elections may not be held until 2023, it seems that the ECP will go ahead with delimitation, irrespective of whether the digital census is completed or not.

On Friday, the ECP ordered delimitation of national and provincial assembly constituencies on war-footing, without waiting for the digital census to commence. Reports state that the ECP has set a timeframe of four months for completion of the exercise on the basis of the 2017 census and population statistics, a timeline which the commission had deemed highly improbable to fulfil a few days back.

If the twists and turns of Pakistani politics can teach us anything, it is that even seemingly unchangeable precedents and set-in-stone procedures can have surprising outcomes, which is why despite the Supreme Court judgement, nearly all political spectators are waiting with bated breath to see whether a vote of no confidence will take place. In such a political situation, where there are surprises at every turn, small indications like this announcement of ECP can reveal a lot of what is to come.

All parties have already hinted at holding elections in this year, provided reforms are completed. The government was looking to do as much with the unconstitutional decision to dissolve the assemblies, and the opposition alliance has repeatedly indicated the same. It looks like the proceedings of parliament will eventually take us to the polls before the year is over.