The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has officially announced that the general elections in the country are scheduled to occur in the last week of January 2024. This significant decision comes after a series of considerations and developments.
The ECP has stated that an initial list of restrictions, aligned with the new census data, will be disclosed on September 27. This marks a crucial step in the election preparation process. Following this, the ECP plans to publish the final list of constituencies on November 30. This will be done after carefully considering objections and suggestions regarding the delimitation of constituencies.
Subsequently, the elections are set to take place in the last week of January 2024, following a comprehensive 54-day election schedule. The ECP’s statement has brought an end to the uncertainty that surrounded the election timeline. Earlier concerns arose due to the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) government’s decision to approve a new census, which mandated the ECP to conduct new constituency delimitations before proceeding with the elections. This led to concerns about a potential delay in the electoral process.
To provide context, the national and provincial assemblies were dissolved prematurely in August this year. According to the stipulated timeframe, the ECP was expected to organize elections within 90 days, meaning the polls should have been held by November 6. However, constitutional obligations required the ECP to redraw electoral boundaries before proceeding with the elections, making it logistically challenging to meet the 90-day deadline.
Key political parties, including Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), have emphasized the importance of holding elections promptly to address the prevailing uncertainty in the country.
As part of the election preparations, the ECP has outlined a code of conduct for all political parties and candidates. This code of conduct includes provisions such as prohibiting the announcement of development projects during the election period, preventing any form of criticism against the judiciary and the nation’s ideology, discouraging bribery and gift-giving proposals, ensuring the allocation of five percent of general seats to women candidates by political parties, and disallowing the display of weapons at public gatherings. The ECP will finalize and issue the detailed code of conduct after consulting with all political parties, ensuring a fair and transparent electoral process.