Home News Analysis Will General Elections 2018 be held on time?

Will General Elections 2018 be held on time?

Fragile civil-military relations and Nawaz's anti-state rhetoric is raising doubts on the conduct of timely elections.

General Elections
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The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has issued a schedule for general elections to be held on July 25. Addressing a news conference in Islamabad on Thursday, Secretary Election Commission Babar Yaqoob said candidates can file nomination papers from 2nd to 6th of the next month.

The scrutiny of nomination papers by Returning Officers will be conducted by 14th of next month. While the revised list of candidates will be published by 27th of next month. According to the schedule issued, the events will take place as:

Election Schedule

 Public Notice to be issued by the Returning Officer on 01.06.2018

  • Dates for filing of nomination papers with the Returning Officer by the candidates 02.06.2018 to 06.06.2018
  • Publication of names of the nominated candidates 07.06.2018
  • Last date for Scrutiny of nomination papers by the Returning Officer 14.06.2018
  • Last date for filing of appeals against decisions of the Returning Officer rejecting/accepting the nomination papers 19.06.2018
  • Last date for deciding of appeals by the Appellate Tribunal 26.06.2018
  • Publication of revised list of candidates 27.06.2018
  • Last date for withdrawal of candidature and Publication of revised list of candidates 28.06.2018
  • Allotment of Election Symbol to contesting candidate 29.06.2018
  • Polling day 25.07.2018

Read more: Will caretaker government be able to hold free and fare elections?

The delay in 2008 General Elections

The general elections on 11th of May in 2013 marked the first time a democratically elected government in the country was succeeded by another. Since inception, Pakistan has been repeatedly overturned by military coups, the last led by General Pervez Musharraf who held power from 1999 until 2008, when democracy was restored and Pakistan People’s Party came into power after winning elections.

The elections were held in Pakistan on 18 February 2008, after being postponed from 8 January 2008.

Why were the 2008 Elections Delayed?

ECP made the delay citing the time needed to recover from the violence that followed Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. ECP had exerted that ballot papers, voting lists and election screens had been destroyed. There was no other way forward except a delay to “recover”.

The resolution stated that the weather will make “it nearly impossible for voters to participate in the electoral process”. The absence of electricity at polling stations also makes things very difficult for the polling staff”. Bugti stressed that his resolution was not “anti-democratic”.

General Musharraf, who was later declared “absconder” in the assassination attempt of Benazir Bhutto, went on national television to explain the reasons behind elections’ delay as to dampen public anger and help the country to come out of “confusion”.

“I am sure this investigation with the help of Scotland Yard will remove all doubts and suspicions,” the General had ironically stated. The decision was met with suspicion and criticism from opponents. Asif Ali Zardari demanded the elections to be held on time, perhaps he knew he could cash the sympathy vote.

Read more: Elections 2018

Is a delay in 2018 Elections possible?

All major political parties are trying their best to ensure the 2018 general elections are held on time, yet they are accusing each other of mongering interests that could cause a delay. Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif stated that the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) would not tolerate delay in the upcoming general elections.

As the elections draw closer, leaders including Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Imran Khan, Syed Khursheed Shah and Maulana Fazl Urrehman vented their concerns about timely elections. Chief Justice Saqib Nisar gave a statement ensuring that there is no room in constitution to postpone elections.

Delimitations are worrying the political arena regarding the timely elections. According to the Elections Act, 2017, the commission shall delimit constituencies after every census published. The petitioners have raised objection to the delimitation and pointed out that constituencies have been created prior to the elections on political grounds.

However, the Baluchistan Assembly, on Wednesday, passed a resolution seeking a month-long delay in the holding of upcoming general elections, even as the opposition staged a walk-out in protest against the move. The explanation behind their demand is the “unbearably hot weather”. The resolution stated that the weather will make “it nearly impossible for voters to participate in the electoral process”. The absence of electricity at polling stations also makes things very difficult for the polling staff”. Bugti stressed that his resolution was not “anti-democratic”.


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