Home Global Village PML-N on a collision course with Election Commission Pakistan over new demarcations

PML-N on a collision course with Election Commission Pakistan over new demarcations

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A Special parliamentary Committee on Delimitation of Constituencies has decided to scrap new delimitation of constituencies and vowed to take action against the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) official who took part in carving new demarcations.

After confronting judiciary and establishment, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) appears to be heading towards another confrontation and this time against ECP. National Assembly’s Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi headed the special committee meeting on April 18, where it discussed the findings of the working group.

The parliamentary panel made a working group to formulate recommendations to NA. The working group was head by Minister for Privatization Daniyal Aziz. The controversial recommendations of the working group are accepted by the special committee.

Most significantly, it must know the consequences of gerrymandering in which unfair advantage over the political rivals may create unrest and could even result in agitation and protests, which is the last thing Pakistan would want.

The working group proposed the amendment in the Act 20 of EC. One of its most surprising recommendations was to hold the 2018 general elections on the basis of old constituencies. Since final data will not be available before elections, it proposed that the constitutional amendment should be withdrawn according to which elections are supposed to be held on provincial census results.

Citing violations of rules in different constituencies, while making delimitation of constituencies, the committee also recommended approaching the apex court to take suo moto notice of public interest issue under Article 184. Because it believes that ECP has made gross violations and tampered with the rights. It also proposed changes in procedures according to which ECP should not be authorized to hear objections over delimitation and some other body should be given the authority to hear complaints.

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It recommends to “convert the amendment to Section 20 of the Elections Act, 2017 into an ordinance to bring sub-rule (5) of rule 10 of Election Rules, 2017 into the main text of the act, thereby blocking the fractionalization at the district level and clarifying the administrative boundaries and other matters”.

It demanded that inquiry should be initiated against the delimitation committees under the Pakistan Commission of Inquiry Act, 2017, under a retired judge, over violations and reasons for this conduct should also be examined. It is clear that PML-N is going on a collision course with EC.  Both Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehrek-e-Insaf (PTI) had earlier expressed grave reservations over these recommendations of the working group.

A Special parliamentary Committee on Delimitation of Constituencies has decided to scrap new delimitation of constituencies and vowed to take action against the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) official who took part in carving new demarcations.

PPP senior leader Nafisa Shah had accused PML-N of alienating opposition in its unilateral effort and backtracking on constitutional amendment had been unanimously passed by both in the lower house. Moreover, ECP is the right forum for appeals and any violations of Section 20 of Election Act should be reported to the apex court, rather than overturning the unanimous decision of lower house.

The proposed delimitation of constituencies has apparently shocked the government and opposition candidates have raised few eyebrows over the issue. Potential candidates campaigning in their constituencies feel hard done by the proposed delimitation.

Read more: Imran Khan threatens to protest against Election Commission of Pakistan

March 5 ECP proposal caused panic and apparent unrest among some constituents after witnessing their constituencies being divided. Political parties have demanded the ECP to change their decision and re-examine the proposed delimitation of constituencies.

So far 52 objections are filed over delimitation. ECP is hoping to resolve these case before notifying delimitation on May 3. Despite expressing concerns, surprisingly, relatively less number of people have raised objections against new delimitation of constituencies with ECP.

It also proposed changes in procedures according to which ECP should not be authorized to hear objections over delimitation and some other body should be given the authority to hear complaints.

Nevertheless, the government is again at loggerheads with ECP over its inability to apparently to carry out delimitation according to its wish list. To ensure that balance of population remains even throughout the districts and provinces, pre-polls redrawing of boundaries of constituencies is crucial to ensure participation of voters in accordance with the population of the area.

Read more: NA 120 Elections: Test Case for Election Commission of Pakistan?

If a certain party doesn’t get a favor in a particular constituency, it may get a relief in another jurisdiction. It should not be a problem general, unless, a particular candidate is targeted purposely. Most significantly, it must know the consequences of gerrymandering in which unfair advantage over the political rivals may create unrest and could even result in agitation and protests, which is the last thing Pakistan would want.


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