Islamabad: In response to various news items appearing in the print and electronic media with regard to preparation of Computerized Electoral Rolls in collaboration with NADRA, the ECP has deemed it appropriate to clarify the various points mentioned therein. To start with it is clarified for information of the general public that preparation of Computerized Electoral Rolls is the responsibility of the Election Commission of Pakistan under the Constitution and the law and the same position was placed before the Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan during the hearing on 21-12-2011 as under:
That under Article 219 of the Constitution and the Law, it is the responsibility of the ECP to, inter alia, prepare the electoral rolls for election to the National and Provincial Assemblies and revise such rolls annually;
In order to fulfil its constitutional as well as legal duty, the Election Commission of Pakistan has issued a detailed Schedule for revision of the Electoral Rolls in collaboration with NADRA, which was submitted before Apex Court in compliance with the order passed by that Court, dated 4.7.2011;
That the ECP, considering the prevailing circumstances at a particular moment, has revised the Schedule of Revision of Electoral Rolls from time to time and has intimated the Court as well;
The ECP considers that it is within its mandate to give a timeline for the revision of electoral rolls or any other electoral activity and revise or review it at any subsequent time, keeping in view the circumstances requiring such revision or review;
The ECP noted with approval the proviso to Section 17 and Section 26 of the Electoral Rolls Act and observed that any election announced by the Government can be held on the basis of existing electoral rolls until revised;
In the circumstances, the Commission resolved that no change or revision of the already issued Schedule for revision of Electoral Rolls is possible, as the timelines given therein cannot be squeezed anymore; and
The issue of squeezing the timeline already issued by the Election Commission has been discussed with Chairman NADRA, who has also shown his inability to squeeze the timeline.
2. As to the delay of about three months in printing of Preliminary Electoral Rolls and then Final Electoral Rolls it was explained to the Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan that this delay was caused due to heavy rains, floods, dengue fever and law and order situation in some parts of the country as intimated by the Provincial Governments including two resolutions passed by the legislatures of KPK and Baluchistan on 19-09-2011 and 28th October, 2011 respectively. Besides, the Government of Punjab through its Chief Secretary remained in constant touch with Election Commission and emphasized on extension of the date. The last such request was received from the Punjab Government through their Secretary Local Government on 1st November 2011 for even further extension beyond 15th November, 2011 which was not agreed to by the Election Commission of Pakistan. Likewise, a decision of Provincial Cabinet, Government of Sindh was also reported widely through the press on 26th September, 2011 requesting the ECP to extend the door to door exercise by three months.
3. In the three meetings held by the ECP on 12th July, 2011, 5th August, 2011 and 31st October, 2011, the Provincial Election Commissioners and NADRA made the same requests. Thus it is in view of these objective conditions prevailing in these provinces that the ECP had to extend the door to door exercise by three months which would result in three months delay in printing of preliminary electoral rolls and final electoral rolls. In each meeting, the ECP was well cognizant of the orders of the Honourable Supreme Court dated 31st March, 2011, in which the ECP was directed to “fulfil its constitutional commitments—as early as could be possible”. Thus there was no question of any deliberate delay on the part of ECP in the revision of Electoral Rolls.
4. Accordingly therefore, the Commission submitted two reports to the Supreme Court, one on 25th July, 2011 and the other on 9th November, 2011 apprising the Registrar Supreme Court of Pakistan about the delay having been caused due to the flood etc., as already stated above.
5. Therefore, pursuant to the directions given by the Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan in its order, dated 21.12.2011, the Election Commission of Pakistan, under the Chairmanship of Honourable Chief Election Commission of Pakistan Mr. Justice (R) Hamid Ali Mirza held a meeting with Chairman and Deputy Chairman NADRA and asked them to expedite the work relating to data processing of the verified Draft Electoral Rolls and Forms handed over to NADRA by ECP and print the Preliminary Electoral Rolls as early as possible and in this regard all possible efforts be made and resources be employed for completing the assignment within the timeframe given by the Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan to comply with the order in letter and spirit, keeping in mind two factors:
i. That the legal requirement of minimum three weeks for display of PER has to be observed; and
ii. Accuracy of the data of PER and FER has to be ensured to avoid the same mistakes which were committed in 2007 to preclude the possibility of any bloodshed hinted at by the Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan.
For more information, contact:
Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP)
Election Commission of Pakistan Secretariat
Election House, Constitution Avenue G-5/2, Islamabad
Tel: +9251 920 1975, +9251 920 6062
Fax: +9251 920 5402, +9251 920 5300