Pakistan’s General Election May Face Delays Due to New Census
Pakistan’s eagerly anticipated general election, slated for later this year, may encounter significant delays as the Council of Common Interest (CCI) has decided to endorse the results of the latest census. The decision has sparked debates and concerns, potentially leading to a new political crisis in the country.
Census and Election Implications:
According to Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar, the new census count has been completed, showing a population of 241.49 million. However, the general elections require the redrawing of constituency boundaries based on the updated census figures. Minister Tarar estimated that this delimitation process could take approximately four extra months to accomplish. The CCI, which includes representatives from federal and provincial governments, made a unanimous decision to hold the upcoming elections under the framework of the new census.
Muhammad Sarwar Gondal, spokesperson and member of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), emphasized that Pakistan’s constitution stipulates that after the latest census count, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is obligated to conduct new delimitations. This process would pave the way for the subsequent elections. While the PBS’s role is limited to providing data and mapping to facilitate the ECP, the constitution remains explicit about adhering to the process for new delimitations, as witnessed during the last census in 2017, preceding the 2018 polls.
A New Pandora’s Box:
Political analyst Raza Rumi foresees potential challenges arising from the CCI’s decision to endorse the census results. The new delimitation process is projected to take around 120 days, while the Pakistani constitution mandates elections to occur no more than 90 days after the dissolution of assemblies. Rumi believes this situation could open a new Pandora’s box, creating legal and constitutional uncertainties. He suggests that the matter may likely be brought before Pakistan’s Supreme Court for resolution.
Timing and Political Motives:
Rumi, who also serves as the director for Park Centre of Independent Media at Ithaca College in New York, speculates that this situation might lead to a delayed election, potentially instigated by the establishment and the ruling parties. This development has raised concerns about the timing of the elections and the integrity of the democratic process in the country.
Opposition Leader’s Arrest:
Amidst the ongoing political landscape, Pakistan’s main opposition figure and former Prime Minister, Imran Khan, has recently faced arrest and a three-year jail sentence on charges of selling state assets, which he vehemently denies. This development adds further complexity and tension to the political environment in the country.
In conclusion, as Pakistan navigates through the delicate balance of conducting a census and holding general elections, the decision by the Council of Common Interest has introduced new challenges and uncertainties. The delicate interplay between constitutional obligations, political motivations, and public interest leaves the nation on the brink of a potential political crisis, raising questions about the timing and integrity of its democratic process. The course of events will undoubtedly be closely watched by citizens, politicians, and observers both within and beyond Pakistan’s borders.