2013 General Election: Simultaneous balloting not viable says ECP

Imran asks CEC to take notice of Secretary Ahmed’s statement and take immediate measures to clear the air.

Sumera Khan December 31, 2012
2013 General Election: Simultaneous balloting not viable says ECP


Despite the insistence of political parties that elections for national and provincial assemblies should be held the same day, a top official of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has spurned the possibility, saying that each assembly finishes its term on different dates.

The constitutional term for the National Assembly ends on March 16, whereas the tenures of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab assemblies expire on March 27, April 4, April 6 and April 8, respectively.

“Since the assemblies were sworn in on different dates, each will complete its tenure on a different date. Elections can therefore not be held simultaneously,” ECP Secretary Ishtiaq Ahmed told journalists on Monday.

Of the nine general elections held since 1970, only three rounds of polls for national and provincial legislatures were organised on the same day. Polls for either assembly were scheduled separately in the elections of 1970, 1977, 1985, 1988, 1990 and 1993.

However, Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin G Ebrahim said a final decision regarding the election schedule will be taken in a special meeting of the commission.

The ECP secretary said that holding polls simultaneously will be a source of “mix-up, confusion and wastage of ballots” as two ballot boxes will have to be placed at each polling station.

Experts concur with Ishtiaq Ahmed. They believe most voters are not educated enough to correctly cast ballots in simultaneous polling.


However, they believe two rounds of polling might compromise transparency. The winners of the first round could manipulate the results of second round, according to them.

An ECP official said that holding polls on separate days will facilitate management as workload will be spread over a span of several days. But the ECP secretary begs to disagree.

“We know that holding general elections for the national and provincial assemblies on different days will definitely cause us some problems, particularly in the arrangement of finances and manpower,” he said.

In a knee-jerk reaction to the ECP secretary’s statement, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan said that holding election on different dates would be tantamount to providing ample opportunities to provincial governments to rig the elections even before the balloting day.

In a statement, Imran said that the such a decision would provide an ample opportunity to provincial governments to influence the results of the general  elections which was a violation of fundamental rights of the people and also was against provision of equal opportunities to all parties contesting the polls.

“Since Punjab comprises of 65 per cent of the country in terms of population, its results shape up the next government in the Centre. If the PML-N government in Punjab is allowed to function even after the dissolution of the National Assembly, this would give sweeping powers to the PML-N government to rig polls and they would also victimise and harass the candidates of their opponent parties pressurising them to change their loyalties,” said Imran.

The PTI leader asked CEC Ebrahim to take notice of Secretary Ishtiaq Ahmed’s statement and take immediate measures to clear the air.

(Read: Safe and secure elections)

Published in The Express Tribune, January 1st, 2013.


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