Islamabad: The chief of Pakistan’s top election authority on Friday said the schedule for the upcoming general election will be announced around the middle of December amidst rumours of a possible delay in polls.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has already announced that the general election will be held on February 8, 2024.
During an informal conversation with journalists, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja when asked about the election schedule said: “Count 54 days backwards from February 8.”
Raja also said the ECP has been proactively handling election-related responsibilities ahead of the schedule.
He said that updated constituency lists had been released and all other election prerequisites were scheduled to be completed smoothly.
The remarks by the election commission chief come as political circles were expressing doubts about timely elections as the ECP was not giving any timetable for the process leading up to polling day.
The ECP has already failed to hold polls within 90 days of the dissolution of the national assembly.
The National Assembly of Pakistan was dissolved on August 9.
However, it spent time marking fresh electoral districts in the light of new census results announced just days before the end of the government.
The ECP said that after fresh delimitation, the National Assembly (NA) would consist of 336 seats, including 266 general seats, 60 seats reserved for women, and 10 for non-Muslims.
The delimitation shows that the strength of the Assembly has decreased — previously 342 seats.
Balochistan has a total of 20 national assembly seats, including 16 general and four reserved seats for women; Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has 45 general national assembly seats and 10 reserved seats for women; Sindh has a total of 75 seats of which 61 are general and remaining 14 are reserved for women.
Punjab, population-wise the largest province, has the biggest share of 141 general national assembly seats and 32 seats reserved for women while the federal capital has representation of three general seats in the national assembly with no seat reserved for women.
Under Article 106, related to the constituencies of four provincial legislatures, Balochistan comprises 51 general seats, 11 reserved for women and three for non-Muslims, bringing the total number to 65.
Likewise, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa consists of 115 general seats, 26 seats reserved for women and four for non-Muslims and the total number of seats in the legislature stands at 145.
Similarly, Sindh consists of 130 general seats, whereas 29 seats are reserved for women and nine seats for non-Muslims and the total number of seats is 168.
Punjab comprises as many as 297 general seats, 66 reserved for women and eight for non-Muslims. The total strength of the provincial legislature is 371 seats.
Hence, the total number of general seats of the four provincial legislatures is 593, of which 132 are reserved for women and 24 for non-Muslims.
It is pertinent to mention that apart from the reserved seats for women and non-Muslims, they can also contest on any general seat open for context.
So, the final tally of women and non-Muslim lawmakers may be higher than the seats reserved.