ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) has issued a statement urging the Election Commission of Pakistan to ensure that the General Election for the National and Provincial Assemblies takes place no later than October 2023. PILDAT emphasized the constitutional obligation for a free, fair, and timely election to restore political stability in the country amidst recent turmoil and economic challenges.
As the current National Assembly is set to complete its five-year term on August 12, 2023, PILDAT stressed the need for a fresh General Election within 60 days, as mandated by the Constitution. The latest conceivable date for the election is October 12, 2023. However, if the National Assembly is dissolved earlier, the election must be held within 90 days, making November 11, 2023, the final deadline. PILDAT strongly advised against extending the election date beyond this timeline under any circumstances.
While accountability proceedings continue for individuals accused of crimes, such as the recent attack on military properties, PILDAT emphasized that such cases should not hinder the political and electoral process.
PILDAT highlighted that although emergency provisions of the constitution allow for a one-year extension of the National Assembly’s term, which would delay the election until October 2024, such an extension is not applicable to provincial assemblies. Any attempt to postpone the National Assembly election would disrupt the schedule for both national and provincial assembly elections, similar to the situation that led to the postponement of Punjab and KP provincial assembly elections beyond the constitutional limit of 90 days.
Additionally, PILDAT called for the completion of the 2023 Population Census by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics and the timely approval of the findings by the Council of Common Interests (CCI). This is crucial for the Election Commission to carry out the delimitation of constituencies well in advance of the October 2023 election.
PILDAT emphasized that any delay in the General Election beyond October-November 2023 poses significant threats to the nation’s political landscape, economy, and integrity.