Islamabad: General elections in Pakistan will take place in the last week of January 2024, the election commission announced on Thursday, amid mounting pressure from political parties and the international community to hold timely and fair elections in the cash-strapped country.
In a statement, the electoral body said that it reviewed work on delimiting constituencies and the initial list for the delimitation of constituencies would be published on September 27.
It said parties would be able to file objections after that the ECP would address all objections and suggestions.
After hearing objections and suggestions regarding the list, the final list would be issued on November 30, which would be followed by the election schedule, it said.
It said that by the end of delimitation, it would announce a 54-day election programme and “polls will be held in the last week of January 2024.” A specific date for the elections was not announced.
The National Assembly was dissolved on August 9 and constitutionally, the elections should be held within 90 days but the process was delayed by the ECP due to the delimitation exercise which became mandatory in the wake of the new census held this year.
The previous government just days before the end of its term endorsed the results of the census which obligated the ECP to set up a new electoral district on the basis of the latest population.
The move led to fears that the polls meant to be held within 90 days may be delayed till next year as the delimitation process would take about four months to complete.
The decision to shorten the timeframe of the delimitation comes amid mounting pressure on the ECP from several political parties that pressed for timely elections.
The US has asked Pakistan to hold free, fair and timely elections, and to respect human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law.
The remarks by State Department Spokesperson Mathew Miller made these remarks earlier this month when sought the view of the US over the uncertainty over fixing a date for holding elections in Pakistan.
The Constitution also provides that the ECP should complete the delimitation process within 120 days.
Currently, a caretaker government is running the country and it will continue until the new prime minister is elected through the elections.
Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar has said the interim government is committed to upholding the democratic process in Pakistan by holding general elections and it will not make any excuse to delay it.
In a letter to the ECP chief earlier this month, President Arif Alvi, who was a founding member of jailed former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, unilaterally proposed November 6 as the day for the polls, but the top election body avoided comment on his suggestion.