Can freezing weather delay the polls in Pakistan?

ISLAMABAD  -  The election campaign in Pakistan has yet to gain momentum due to multiple factors including uncertainty about final schedule of the polls, return of PML-N’s supermo and rumours making rounds about delay in polls due to freezing temperature in January. A debate is set to start in the country that with other con­tributory factors even adverse weather conditions may also play its part to impact the demo­cratic process in Pakistan.

Though the history of general elections in the country from 1970 reveals that the ‘sizzling heat­waves’ and ‘freez­ing winds’ could not create any im­pact over the polls. From 1970 to 2019, the previous general elections his­tory reveals that four elections were held in the mid of winter seasons. Last two polls [2013 and 2018] were held even in extreme warm weather [May and July]. The confusing political state­ments by the heavyweight politicians near the polls always create confusion among the voters and even contestants, as the contend­ers avoid to start their campaigns due to un­certainty about the polls.

A relgio-political party chief Maulana Fa­zlur Rahman last month had come up with two contrasting political statements in the political arena. Rahman confused his politi­cal allies and opponents by saying that the month of January would not be good for the elections due to lot of cold and snow in north­ern areas and Balochistan. In the second statement, with the gap of a week, argued in the favour of polls in the month of January. The Election Commission of Pakistan [ECP] has yet not formally dropped a hint to delay the polls due to harsh weather in the country but the political heavyweights have started drawing attention towards hardship due to freezing temperature in January. The com­mission, around a month ago, has shared a tentative schedule [end of January2024] for the general elections but it has yet to give a final date for the polls. Background discus­sions with the responsible in the electoral watchdog revealed that the weather condi­tion is one of the major factors before an­nouncing the final schedule for the polls.

The weather forecast will be kept in mind before announcing the polls but previous his­tory revealed that the general elections were held in extreme weather conditions. Political and elections experts viewed that the num­ber of constituencies and voters in the harsh weather areas are comparatively not much in number to force the top election regulatory authority to delay the polls.The reasons be­hind dilly dally in the election campaign will soon get momentum when PML-N’s supremo land in the country. The rest of main politi­cal parties will also formally kickstart their election’s campaign in their constituencies. Whereas, some party workers in different constituencies, talking to this scribe, shared that they would soon be given direction to start print, electronic, and social media cam­paigns as in this regard services of various advertisement agencies would be used for the purpose. The party members in each winning constituency have been asked to complete work in each ward of their constit­uency and start local level campaigns at least near their houses.

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