ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has invited the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief secretaries and inspector generals of police to a meeting on February 7 to discuss and possibly finalise the dates for general elections for the two provincial legislatures.
Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja presided over a meeting of the election commission here at its secretariat, which was attended, among others, by the ECP members and the commission’s secretary.
The meeting was held on the heels of submissions to the electoral body by the governors of respective states in response to the election commission’s letters seeking a date for holding these elections. The governors have urged for consulting stakeholders, keeping in view the security and law and order and economic situation in the country. The commission also consulted on the dates for holding elections to the provincial assemblies.
The secretary briefed the meeting on preparations for general elections to provincial assemblies in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and the other 86 National Assembly constituencies.
The ECP secretary explained that after the approval of election commission, a request has been made to the registrars of high courts of the two provinces to provide the services of judicial officers to ensure free and fair elections to the provincial assemblies.
It was decided that a meeting of the election commission will be held on February 7, 2023, in which the chief secretaries and IGPs of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will brief the forum on related matters, with special focus on safe and peaceful conduct of upcoming general elections to the provincial assemblies and by-elections to the National Assembly.
The ECP also decided that a consultative meeting would be held with political parties on February 9 and that feedback would be taken from the parties regarding the draft of code of conduct.
Moreover, consultations will be held on peaceful conduct of elections to provincial assemblies and other constitutional and legal issues to ensure peaceful conduct of elections. The commission had suggested to the governors April 9-13 for the elections of the Punjab Assembly and April 15-17 for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly and asked them to select a date within the given timeline. However, they had urged the electoral body to do so, following consultations with the related stakeholder groups.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission of Pakistan has announced the schedule for by-elections to 31 more National Assembly seats, fixing March 19 (Sunday) for polling. According to the schedule, nomination papers can be submitted from February 10 to 14; nomination papers can be withdrawn until March 1; and election symbols will be allotted to candidates on March 2. Likewise, scrutiny of nomination papers will be carried out until February 18; appeals on nomination papers will be submitted by February 22, and election tribunals will decide on appeals by February 27.
By-elections will be held in NA-2, Swat-I, NA-3, Swat-II, NA-5 Upper Dir-I, NA-6, Lower Dir-I, NA-8, Malakand, N-9, Buner, NA-16, Abbotabad-II, NA-19, Swabi-II, NA-20, Mardan-I, NA-28, Peshawar-II, NA-30, Peshawar-IV, NA-34, Karak, NA-40, Bajur-I, NA-42, Mohmand, NA-44, Khyber-II, NA-61, Rawalpindi-V, NA-70, Gujrat-III, NA-87, Hafizabad-I, NA-93, Khushab-I, NA-96, Mianwali-II, NA-107, Faisalabad-VII, NA-109, Faisalabad-IX, NA-135, Lahore-XIII, NA-150, Khanewal-I, NA-152, Khanewal-III, NA-158, Multan-V, NA-164, Vehari-III, NA-165, Vehari-IV, NA-177, Rahimyar Khan-III and NA-187, Layyah-I. It may be recalled that these seats fell vacant after the resignations of PTI members of the National Assembly were approved and they were de-notified. The election commission has already issued the schedule for by-elections to 33 vacant seats in the National Assembly, according to which the by-elections will be held on March 16.