The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has scheduled a meeting with political parties on October 4 to discuss the code of conduct specified in Section 233 of the Election Act 2017 for the upcoming general elections. A draft of the code of conduct has been shared with political party leaders in advance to facilitate more effective feedback during the consultations.
Delay in General Elections Sparks Debate
The ECP’s announcement comes amid a debate over the timing of the general elections, which were originally expected to be held within 90 days of the dissolution of the National Assembly, according to Article 224 of the Constitution. However, the ECP has cited the need for fresh constituency delimitation following the 2023 digital census as a reason for the delay.
According to the new delimitation schedule, the final publication of constituency boundaries will be released on December 14, 2023. Some political parties have criticized this delay and called for elections to be held as soon as possible.
Presidential Involvement and Legal Changes
President Dr. Arif Alvi had previously invited Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja for a meeting to determine an appropriate election date. However, a recent amendment to the Elections Act 2017 grants the ECP the authority to unilaterally announce election dates without consulting the president.
The CEC, in response to the president’s invitation, stated that participating in such a meeting would be of “scant importance.” The president subsequently sought advice from the law ministry, which confirmed that the power to announce election dates rests with the ECP.
In a recent letter, the president proposed that elections be held by November 6, but it’s important to note that this was a suggestion rather than an official declaration of the election date.
The delay in the general elections has sparked discussions and disagreements among political parties, highlighting the complex interplay of legal provisions, constitutional requirements, and the ECP’s authority in determining the election timeline.
Meeting Details and Draft Code of Conduct
The meeting with political parties is scheduled for October 4 at 2 p.m. at the ECP Secretariat in Islamabad, in accordance with Section 233 of the Elections Act 2017. The draft code of conduct has been shared with political party leaders and is also available on the Election Commission’s website for reference during the consultation.
The ECP remains committed to conducting a fair and transparent delimitation process and emphasizes the importance of maintaining the quality of the delimitation plan.
This development signifies ongoing efforts to navigate the complexities of Pakistan’s electoral landscape and ensure a smooth transition to the next general elections.