Elections on time, delimitation in Karachi not possible, says CEC: ECP assured of full army cooperation
ISLAMABAD, Dec 27: After holding detailed discussions with Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Wednesday on matters relating to general elections, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim made two significant points.
He categorically stated that elections would be held on time and in a free, fair and transparent manner, quashing the rumours that the establishment was interested in getting the polls delayed.
And in a significant shift in the ECP’s stated position, he said that it was not possible to carry out delimitation of constituencies in Karachi.
The statement came at a time when postponement of elections had become a hot topic in TV talk shows. The public meeting addressed by Tehrik Minhaj-ul-Quran chief Tahirul Qadri in Lahore on Dec 23 — where a demand was made for a change in the system in three weeks and a warning issued of a march on Islamabad if it was not done — gave further rise to the rumours that stage was being set for postponement of elections with the covert blessings of the establishment.
Addressing a press conference, Justice Ebrahim said Mr Qadri’s outburst was his point of view and made it clear that the commission was fully prepared to hold elections on time.
He described his meeting with the Chief of Army Staff as fruitful and quoted him as saying that the ECP’s requests concerning elections would be accepted and personnel would be provided for deployment at polling stations.
“Forget about the postponement of elections. Why it is not being understood that the world has changed,” the CEC said. He asked rumour mongers to stop their negative propaganda about elections.
When asked if he had discussed with the army chief ways of eliminating the role of the establishment in elections, he said: “The army chief spoke out his mind and I mine. The meeting has raised my confidence.”
He said the army chief also assured of his cooperation in a fresh exercise of verification of voters in Karachi.
DELIMITATION IN KARACHI: The CEC said suggestions invited from the political parties on delimitation of constituencies in the city had not been received, adding that the limits of constituencies would remain unchanged.
When it was pointed out that the Election Commission of Pakistan had already announced its decision to go for delimitation, he said that the delimitation had been carried out on the basis of last census.
“Whatever has been done should be accepted. We will meet the political parties and request them not to adopt the path of confrontation,” he said.
He did not reveal what would he do to satisfy the Supreme Court which had issued directives for fresh delimitation and gave no indication if a review petition would be filed. He merely said that political parties would lose if transparent elections were not held.
ECP Secretary Ishtiak Ahmad Khan tried to play down the issue by saying that a final decision would be taken after receiving
suggestions from the political parties.
NADRA BRIEFING: A little before the press conference, the CEC and the Army Chief met again. This time the venue was the headquarters of the National Database Registration Authority (Nadra) where its chief Tariq Malik gave a detailed briefing on Electoral Rolls Project being jointly carried out by the ECP and Nadra.
At the end of the meeting, General Kayani accompanied by Defence Secretary Lt-Gen (Rtd) Asif Yasin Malik joined the CEC in a discussion with the Nadra chief about verification of voters’ list pertaining to Karachi in the light of the Supreme Court order.
Mr Malik also spoke about progress made in issuing computerised national identity cards (CNICs) to youths who have attained the age of 18 years. A list of 1.5 million CNICs was being provided to the ECP for their verification and subsequent registration as voters, he said.
The Nadra chief said till date 12m voters had checked their votes through SMS service.
He also spoke about amendments and corrections being made in final electoral rolls in accordance with the Electoral Rolls Act 1974. The process was being carried out by district election commissioners and so far 83,797 modifications have been made. The modifications include 22,548 in the lists of Balochistan, 21,091 in Sindh, 20,060 in Punjab, 16,980 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 2,610 in Islamabad Capital Territory and 508 in Fata. The process will continue till the announcement of election schedule.
Smart card of General Kayani was processed during his stay at Nadra headquarters.