The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has expressed its inability to conduct general elections within three months, citing various legal hitches and procedural challenges as the reason.
A senior ECP official told Dawn news that the preparations for the general elections would require some six months.
He said fresh delimitation of constituencies, particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where the number of seats had been increased under the 26th Amendment, and bringing district- and constituency-wise electoral rolls in conformity were the major challenges.
“Delimitation is a time-consuming exercise where the law provides for one month’s time just to invite objections,” he said, adding that another one month was required to address the same.
The official told Dawn news that a minimum of three months would be required to complete the exercise, followed by another gigantic task of updating voters’ lists.
He said procurement of election material, arrangement for ballot papers and appointment and training of polling staff were also amongst the challenges, adding that under the law, ballot papers with water mark were to be used which were not available in the country and would have to be imported.
He revealed that the ECP had proposed to amend the law to provide for ballot papers with “security features”, instead of “water mark”.
The official said inviting bids and scrutinising financial and technical quotations would also require some time. About the election material, he said some two million stamp pads would be required for around 100,000 polling stations.
“This is just one example. Other materials in huge quantity, including scissors and ball points, will also have to be procured,” he remarked.
Referring to some legal hitches, the official told Dawn news that under Section 14 of the Elections Act, the ECP was to announce an election plan four months prior to the polls.
He said the law requiring use of EVMs (electronic voting machines) and giving overseas Pakistanis voting rights also held the field and had to be repealed.