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Friday, May 24, 2024

Polls could be delayed warns ECP

Earlier directives barred district returning officers (DROs) and returning officers (ROs) from altering symbols without ECP approval.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has issued a cautionary statement, asserting the possibility of electoral delays if continued requests for changing already allocated election symbols persist. Without explicitly naming any specific court, the ECP highlighted the ongoing alteration of symbols through various channels. After the allocation of symbols, the ECP had initiated the printing of ballot papers across three printing corporations, commencing a day prior to the warning.

The ECP expressed concern that if the process of symbol changes persists, the elections might face delays. This is attributed to the need for reprinting ballot papers, a time-consuming task with limited time available, and the potential depletion of the specialized paper designed for ballot printing.

Notably, the upcoming general elections witness a remarkable 33% increase in candidate numbers, with 18,059 contenders compared to the 11,700 in the 2018 polls. The estimated paper usage for ballot printing has risen to 2,070 tonnes for 260 million ballot papers, considering the electoral roll updates due to constituency delimitation.

Accusations from PPP

Despite repeated instructions from the ECP to refrain from changing symbols once printing has commenced, there is a growing concern that if the trend persists, elections in affected constituencies might have to be postponed. Earlier directives barred district returning officers (DROs) and returning officers (ROs) from altering symbols without ECP approval.

The ECP’s statement is seen as a response to requests from political parties and candidates seeking symbol changes, including pending applications before higher courts. The PPP, for instance, demanded symbol alterations for seven candidates, alleging that they were designated as independent due to an absence of the ‘arrow’ symbol.

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In response, ECP officials refuted the PPP’s claims, stating that candidates had either opted for symbols from other parties during nomination or left the affiliation column blank. The ECP characterized the PPP’s statements as prone to exaggeration, emphasizing the need for adherence to established procedures.