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Election Delay in Pakistan Raises Doubts of ‘Free and Fair’ Vote

Islamabad, Pakistan – The announcement that Pakistan’s general elections will take place in late January instead of November has evoked mixed reactions among political parties and analysts, with some expressing scepticism as to whether the polls would be free and fair.

Shortly after the country’s parliament was dissolved on August 9, concerns were raised that elections would be delayed past the constitutionally required 90-day period.

On Thursday, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced in a statement that the elections would now be held during the last week of January.

Aasiya Riaz, a senior official of the independent political think tank, Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT), said on Friday that the ECP announcement is a step in the right direction but lacks essential information.

“There is no date and no schedule of general election yet, and that is a concern,” Riaz told Al Jazeera, adding that further delays must be avoided.

“A fresh poll must take place, and it cannot be postponed indefinitely,” she said.

The ECP statement said that the final list of redrawn constituency maps will be issued on November 30, allowing for a 54-day election programme consisting of filing nomination documents, appeals, and campaigning.

It is constitutionally mandated that polls could only be held after constituencies are redrawn according to the result of the latest census, a process that would take at least four months, the ECP said.

Source : Aljazeera