PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah said on Tuesday his party’s supremo, Nawaz Sharif, was confident that general elections would be held in the country in February next year.
“He (Nawaz) is sure that elections will take place in February. Delimitation of constituencies has to be completed before then, and it will be completed by December,” Sanaullah said while responding to a question about Nawaz’s expected return to Pakistan during an appearance on Geo News show ‘Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Saath’.
The former interior minister added that since elections would be held in February, it was appropriate for Nawaz to return to the country in September or October.
Nawaz left the country in November 2019 for medical treatment in London following his conviction in a corruption case. The three-time prime minister has not returned since and faces multiple cases in Pakistan.
Last week, his younger brother and then-prime minister Shhebaz Sharif also said that he would return to Pakistan in September, lead the PML-N’s election campaign and assume the role of the prime minister for a fourth time if the party would emerge victorious in the polls.
Sanaullah also reiterated this today.
He further claimed that the establishment had wanted the elections to be held within the constitutionally mandated period of 90 days following the dissolution of the National Assembly (NA) on August 9, three days before the end of its term.
The Constitution provides that if the assembly completes its tenure, elections are to be held in 60 days, but in case of premature dissolution — which will be the case here — this period is extended to 90 days.
In light of this, the elections are supposed to be held in November.
However, after the final results of the first-ever digital census were approved earlier this month, it seems almost certain that the polls will be delayed as a fresh delimitation of constituencies is now required, which will take time.
Recently, a Dawn report also cited a senior Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) official as saying that the commission was “now legally bound to go for fresh delimitation, which would take at least four months”.
“It’s a constitutional requirement and we will have to do it,” he had remarked. “The details will be worked out by the commission in a meeting, which would be held after they received the official notification.”
The report quoted another official as saying that the ECP will also be required to update electoral rolls and take other related steps, indicating that the entire exercise may be postponed until March or April of the next year.
Another Dawn report published today said a huge mismatch in the otherwise increased and decreased share of districts across the country would make the upcoming exercise to re-draw boundaries for provincial assemblies’ elections a complex one.
The report highlighted that a thorough analysis of population figures showed that unlike for NA seats, fresh delimitation for the provincial assembly seats can affect dozens of districts.
The delimitation issue was also brought up during a Supreme Court hearing today where Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial said the ECP should conduct the process of delimitations transparently, stressing that it was a “matter of public interest”. He directed the ECP to resolve all issues prior to the polls.
Subsequently, the ECP issued a notification stating that it would hold a meeting on Wednesday (tomorrow) to discuss the delimitation of NA and provincial assemblies’ constituencies and allied matters.