The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will hold by-elections for 10 national and provincial seats on February 25, as per schedule, spokesman of the Election Commission, Muhammad Afzal Khan told The Express Tribune on Monday.
“Polls for these 10 vacant seats will take place as per the schedule that has already been announced by the ECP,” said Khan. “The Supreme Court has allowed the ECP to conduct by-elections on the condition that they must be held on the basis of verified and fair electoral rolls,” he said, adding that “the ECP has been able to arrange fresh and verified voters’ lists exclusively meant for those 10 seats from NADRA.”
A fresh voters’ list has been prepared on the urgent request of the ECP, which had asked NADRA last month to prepare the verified electoral rolls of the 10 constituencies within 10 days on an emergency basis. Accepting the request, NADRA promised to prepare the required lists within the time frame fixed by ECP.
“The ECP has received fresh, authentic and error free electoral rolls from NADRA on Sunday,” the spokesman said. “The Supreme Court had forbidden the ECP to hold the said by-elections on the basis of the old voters’ lists, as those were found to be polluted and unverified.”
The ECP was about to postpone the by-elections, but the registrar of the apex court had asked the commission in a clarification that the ultimate focus should be on verified/valid electoral lists, in order to meet the requirement of the Constitution under Article 218 (3), which stipulates that the elections should be conducted honestly, fairly and in accordance with the law. The election commission is now free to hold the by-elections subject to what has been observed by the Supreme Court in its order, the clarification added.
The clarification from the court’s registrar came when the Election Commission’s secretary gave the impression that the court had stayed the holding of by-elections. Polling for the six National Assembly and four provincial assembly seats will be conducted on the basis of these fresh lists.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 7th, 2012.
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