Senate panel pushes for 90-day election timeline; ECP secretary pledges fair play

The Senate Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs, in its meeting on Tuesday, called for the general elections to be held within the 90-day constitutional timeframe.

The recommendation comes days after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) annoucned that polls in the country would be held in January next year.

However, the timeframe lacks a specific date for the elections. It also exceeds the Nov 6 cut-off date suggested by President Arif Alvi considering the 90-day limit.

Since the National Assembly was dissolved three days before the end of its constitutional term, Article 224 of the Constitution mandates that elections be held within 90 days of the dissolution of the assembly by November 7.

Today, the committee also expressed its reservations over the process of compiling the results during the elections, demanding that the result management be made clearer.

It urged the ECP to restrict the election process and immediately announce the election schedule.

Meanwhile, ECP Secretary Omar Hamid Khan assured the Senate committee that the commission was “providing everyone with a level playing field” for the upcoming polls.

During a briefing to the committee, he asserted that there “would not be any rigging in the upcoming general elections” as the arrangements the ECP was making would have “no chance of rigging”.

Khan went on to state that the electoral body has “no favourite”, adding: “A lot has happened with us, which we have kept behind the curtains.”

He told the committee, “Provincial governments were not ready but we still conducted the local government polls. We are making sure that the mistakes made by the ECP in past are not repeated.”

The official’s assurance echoes the ECP’s promise made a month ago that transparent polls would be conducted in the country “as soon as possible” and a level playing field would be provided to all political parties.

However, soon, strong statements were made by several senior PPP leaders, including party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, over the past month against the “absence of a level playing field”.

The PPP has also termed the current caretaker setup as an extension of the PML-N, citing the induction of bureaucrats who have been closely affiliated with the Nawaz-led party. Similar concerns have been raised by the PTI as well.

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