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Pakistan Registers 21M New Voters Ahead of Crucial Elections

Pakistan has logged 21 million new voters over the past four years ahead of the crucial general elections expected to be held in February next year. 

With the latest additions, the total number of voters in the country has shot up to around 127 million compared to 106 million in 2018, data released by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECO) on Tuesday showed.

Of 127 million voters, over 72 million voters are based in northeastern Punjab, the country’s largest and bellwether province, followed by southern Sindh province, which has more than 26 million voters.

The number of female voters, who make up 46% of the total figures, has risen to 58.5 million from 46.7 million in 2018.

Over 57 million voters are aged between 18-35, making up 45% of the total numbers. It was 43.8% in 2018, the data showed.

Although the election commission has not fixed a date for the national vote, sources in the electoral body said the polls are expected to be held in the second or third week of February.

Currently, a caretaker government led by acting Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar is ruling the South Asian nuclear country following the dissolution of the lower house, known as the National Assembly, on Aug. 9.

President Arif Alvi dissolved the National Assembly on the advice of outgoing Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, clearing the way for a national vote within 90 days, as required by the Constitution.

However, the Council of Common Interests, a constitutional body made up of the prime minister and the chief ministers of all provinces, last month approved the controversial results of a new nationwide census, making it almost certain that elections will not be held on time.

Because of the hurried approval, the ECP will need at least four more months to notify new constituencies in the country in accordance with the latest census.

In this case, the elections cannot be held before February.

Moreover, the outgoing government, through an amendment in the election rules in June, empowered the ECP to independently announce the poll date.

President Alvi, last week, “proposed” to the ECP that general elections be held in the first week of November to elect a new government for the next five years.

Despite being the constitutional head of state, Alvi used the word “proposed” in his letter to the head of the country’s top electoral body, amid an ongoing controversy between the President’s Office and the ECP, with both claiming the right to announce the much-anticipated polls date.

The president, earlier this month, invited Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja for a meeting to decide the election date. The invitation, however, was turned down by the latter.

Source: AA